Coping With My Borderline
After being married 27 years, rearing two beautiful emotionally healthy daughters despite their fathers strange behavior. We had and at times still have great times together, every day is not a bad day. Being married to and surviving a borderline marriage is hard work, but it can be done.
The reason I have been able to survive this far is because of my strong faith in a higher being. I continuously educate myself, from the borderline's perspective and from the non's perspective. And yes, it is downright heart-wrenching at times. It is important that a spouse of a borderline never lose sight of who we are as an individual. Surround ourselves with positive people and things, practice self preservation at all cost.
I had many good years with my husband of which I constantly have to draw on sometimes just to get me through a day. It would not be human to say the rages, infidelities, unreasonableness, the glass in almost always empty, self-pity, back-to-normal and repeat the cycle all over again that catches you off guard every time is not the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life.
This is where I have learned the art of mentally disengaging. The worst of his episodes has reared it's ugly head in the past six years now that we are empty-nesters, and he has retired. That which he used to shield his family from his wrath was gone, and I became his target.
At first the confusion left me questioning myself, and as I carefully scrutinized what role I was playing in the onset of these seemingly out of no where rages, I realized they were actually appearing out of thin air. This is when I knew something was seriously wrong. It was always a joke in our family that he had three different personalities, a joke, yet each persona was recognizable by all of us. Each so uniquely individual that we had given each one a name.
After years of starting and stopping counseling before getting a diagnosis just at the point of him having to feel his wall of pain he would stop. It wasn't until about six months ago after I busted him yet another time, yet this time I made sure he could not deny it, did it send him running to counseling. The difference was this time, HE made the appointment, HE was responsible for keeping and making his appointments. He found a wonderful therapist that he trusted, as much as a borderline can. He opened up about things that he had never told anyone else. This was a major break through. His therapist had as part of his homework he had to share to a certain degree what he had discovered about himself with me.
I knew about the abuse heaped on he, his siblings, and mother by his father and always attributed his behavior to that. Yet once in therapy, it went deeper than that, deeper than either of us had expected to find. There was also sexual abuse by a neighborhood baby sitter that his therapist attributes his many indiscretions.
The pain of confronting the past once again became to overwhelming, and he has since stopped therapy, again. It was not before receiving a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder/bipolar/post-traumatic stress from childhood with hedonistic tendencies. Part of his treatment was to learn how to deal with the on-going pain on his own without returning to old coping mechanisms such as the attention of other females as a quick pick me up. He was also told that the reason he chose that avenue to cope was he still felt the need to be in control, and prove to himself that sexually he was now in control.
He constantly lives in fear of my leaving him, yet will distance himself emotionally from me. This hurts like no other hurt. When I feel the need to emotionally disengage, needing to take some time for myself, he often feels abandoned and will act out by showering his attention on someone else that he has met, and once caught will give me the old; I can't talk to you, you are so busy doing your own thing, you are always mad at me spiel. This is even though I had explained prior that I just need to take some time for myself right now, not because of being angry.
I have learned to set boundaries within our marriage and constantly remind him what the consequences are if they are crossed. I am careful not to make threats that I have no intention of carrying out, because this only gives him more ammunition. I strive for my yes to mean yes and my no to mean no. Does he get angry when I stick to my guns on certain matters? yes. Does he sometimes act out because of my stance? yes, and badly.
Only now, that he has some coping skills under his belt I notice the obvious indiscretions have if not ceased at least slowed. For the first time in years he will let his guard down long enough to say I am sorry that I hurt you and remind me what he has been doing has nothing to do with me and explain it is almost like an addicting drug that you return to time and time again to get you through the rough times in your head.
I now understand that a borderline mate, because of not having a self-identity will mirror their feelings on to you because they can't handle the feelings themselves. I've created a life that I can lose myself in from time to time with hobbies, reading and other activities. I make sure that I don't spend all my time walking on eggshells. In order to make this work we must be strong enough with in ourselves and have a well-established set of boundaries in place. The hardest part is to try and separate the person from the disease, learn how not to take everything personally, establish a form of communication between the two of you that allows you to say to him/her, that one really hurt and I need to just step away from you right now to process this one. This may be in a form of a card, a written note, e-mail or something as simple as wearing a piece of clothing in a particular color that you both decided would be the cue to back off. Maybe red. Thanks for listening how I personally cope.