The erratic, see-saw-like relationship that so many with BPD experience and share with their partners.
Trigger Warning: This story contains references to self-harm & violence.
Today is the statutory holiday of Family Day.
We get a day off of work, while banks, schools and The Home Depot are closed, and, although many people are enjoying sleeping-in and doing nothing on this long weekend, others are getting together with their families and celebrating their relationships.
But not everyone has a positive relationship with their family, so, on a day like today, it could cause as much heartache as a singleton (or recently broken-up-with) person feels on Valentine’s Day.
For most of my life, my relationship with my immediate family has not been good. After dealing with a severe breakdown three years ago, and not speaking with my family for two-and-a-half years of it while I was in therapy, I was able to figure out why my relationship with them was so toxic, and communicate this to them in a respectful but assertive and factual way.
Thankfully, they were understanding and, since, our familial bond has strengthened and improved immensely.
But, during “the troubles” – and I refer to it that way because it was two sides of myself, fighting within – my relationship with my partner was at an all-time low. With all of the confusion, medication, illness and anguish going on, our once-perfect love for each other decomposed into something vile and hate-filled (from my side), that I could see no other way to handle it but to take myself out of this world.
I felt so alone, so misunderstood, so neglected and abandoned, despite his reassurance that he loved me and wanted to be with me (he stayed by my side through some crazy-ass shit), the fact that there was no marriage proposal triggered my BPD-typical “black & white” or “all or nothing” thinking into high gear, and, as much as I previously cherished every small detail about him, now I wanted to cut him into small pieces and burn them in the fireplace.
That’s when I wrote this:
Tonight I am going to kill myself.
I am going to kill the person that thought you could make life better.
I am going to kill the person who thought they could trust you to listen to their innermost vulnerabilities and fight to protect them.
I am going to kill the person that believed you when you said that you would, and then watched you run from it.
I am going to kill the person that believed you believed in our family.
That you would do anything for me and my child.
That you would “make it happen, no matter what”, but it was all lies to stop the argument over the very same issue for which I am, now, going to die.
You never understood me and you never will because you cannot accept and step outside of your own flaws.
Reading this today, I am shocked at how angry my words are. More relevant, how much fury and rage is behind the words, themselves.
I barely remember writing this – most of my time during “the troubles” is foggy, but I am able to recall my emotional state and the extreme sadness that I felt, easily transposing it into those angry words.
Today, I am the product of positive therapy.
I am still frustrated at the lack of a proposal, often feeling like he’s waiting for something better to come along, but I am able to control these feelings of perceived abandonment and rejection just because he hasn’t “put a ring on it”, and look at the other reasons as to why it hasn’t happened ($$$).
I am working as hard as I can to revive that loving relationship because we both deserve it.
With BPD, relationships are hard for both parties.
I’ve been using Reddit and have seen the same questions asked over and over in the BPD subreddits: My partner has BPD and she hates me – what do I do?
VeryWellMind.com says that most romantic BPD relationships go through a honeymoon period; that’s the beginning part where everything is all lovey-dovey intense and the non-BPD’er thinks they’ve hit the jackpot in terms of love, intimacy and sex, while the BPD’er is thinking the same thing, but sees their partner as their saviour – the one who will end their lifetime of loneliness; their soulmate. It’s know as idealization.
But then something happens – goes ‘wrong’ – in the dichotomous (black & white thinking) mind of the BPD’er.
In my case, it was the lack of a proposal, that, from the beginning of the relationship, I’d clarified that I wanted.
It was a betrayal, akin to cheating on me – it wasn’t physical, but it was emotional.
It was a rejection, plain and simple; you were, either, with me or you weren’t, man.
This feeling led to the devaluation stage – one that goes hand-in-hand with the former idealization, only this is the opposite; seeing your partner as the devil incarnate, as intensely flawed and useless. It’s called ‘splitting’.
Like most defense mechanisms or coping strategies, many people are not aware they are engaging in devaluation and idealization. It’s done subconsciously as a way to protect themselves from perceived stress.VeryWellMind.com
This see-saw effect is stressful for everyone involved.
Partners can maintain the relationship by finding ways to cope with the cyclical nature of the BeastPD, namely seeking out professional help, and couples therapy can also be beneficial.
But sometimes, it’s too difficult for the non-BPD partner to stay, and, as I’ve posted on Reddit multiple times, it’s important to take care of yourself first – you are no good to your BPD’er if you are not good yourself, so if leaving the relationship is your healthiest choice, then that’s what must be done.
Leaving is not an easy endeavour. As someone with BPD feels rejection and abandonment so strongly, even when it’s not always intended, ending a relationship can be devastating. Despite all of the signs that the situation is toxic for both partners, the intense fear of being left is enough to send the BPD’er into a real state. It’s best to have a support network that includes a professional therapist.
When I thought that my partner would leave me because of my (unbeknownst) BPD, my fear overtook me, and my threats to keep him from our child, to take everything from him, to “destroy” his life and the lives of his family members, became a daily chant.
On the outside, I was an angry, tough bitch, mouthing off with the intent to hurt, but on the inside, I was so sad that, after saying those things, I would write melancholic verses like the one above, on my phone’s notepad while hiding under the covers, crying.
It’s been two years since I wrote that note to myself, and I can’t imagine ever thinking that way again.
The prognosis for BPD is positive and, although it will never go away and, when triggered, it may very well show itself with intensity, with proper treatment, we can learn how to control it, making life sweeter for ourselves and for those who love us.
Happy Family Day – please love your loved ones as best as you can.