Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Life Continues to Improve

It's been 10 months since the BPD and I last spoke to one another, when she stormed out of my place, and I didn't give chase. Life has changed quite a bit for me, to say the least. I'd like to say that it has gone back to normal, but it hasn't.

It's gone back to better than normal. My normal has been redefined. Particularly the normal that I had with the BPD, because that wasn't normal. That was dysfunctional.

Looking back, the relationship with the BPD was important to my growth. It was important for me to see true instability and how to navigate away from it. 

Ten months later, she can't come near me now:
- I have a new woman in my life. She's kind, patient, caring, loving, funny, quite attractive, and much more my speed. She's a singer, a mother, a wonderful friend. She supports me like I've never been supported before. I don't think that I was ready for her until now, and that I had to have a relationship with a BPD so I could truly appreciate the new woman.
- I have a new position so she doesn't know where I work. No more calling my office and asking reception, "Is Dennis working today?" then hanging up. 
- I've moved to a place where she has no idea where I live. None. I moved in with my new girlfriend, and she couldn't find me if she wanted to.

With that said, I'm still healing. I'm kidding myself if I don't say that I'm still healing. After being in a relationship with someone inflicted with Borderline Personality Disorder for nearly two years, one has to heal so they can have healthy relationships again. They must learn their personal boundaries and exercise them, putting them up firmly for some, then learning to have flexible boundaries. I'm still healing, but it's nearly over. 

The Borderline Personality Addiction

When you spend years with a person afflicted with BPD, you grow addicted. You grow addicted to the highs of the relationship, and you grow addicted to the lows of the relationship. The BPD treats you like a god at times, then treats you as evil other times in their cycle of devaluing and idealizing you. 

Clearly, you love the highs, but you also like the lows as it becomes an opportunity for you to prove your worth. Proving your worth becomes critical when you're in a BPD relationship, as the BPD will constantly devalue you in between their fits of treating you like a God.

When the relationship ends, you want it back so badly that you will now violate boundaries -- the BPDs, your own, whatever -- to get the relationship back. You're now caught in the web of Borderline Personality Disorder. Some have called this, "living the life of a Borderline by proxy," and you really are living like a Borderline. You'll now:
  • Call the BPD repeatedly until they pick up. Before you would never do such things. To the BPD, this proves their worth. They don't pick up the phone, and you're desperate to have them talk to you so you can reconnect with them and have them feed you the idealizing that only they can provide
  • Get upset, jealous, angry about things that never would have bothered you before. Is this really you, or someone who has invaded your body? Look at the BPD, because they occupy your brain now, not you
  • Ignore, disown, not pay attention, disregard family and friends to the point of completely cutting them off. One of the key things that BPDs do is isloate you, because if you were well-connected with friends and family, you probably would never have accepted such unacceptable treatment. My Mom used to tell me that she could tell when things were bad with me and the BPD because she wouldn't hear from me for weeks. When things were good, she'd hear from me all the time.
  • Feel bad all the time. Maybe you're talking to yourself because you're feeling so bad (I did -- before the relationship ended and afterwards). Maybe you're clenching your teeth (I did for about 6-8 months). Maybe you're crying constantly (I did, particularly after the relationship ended). Believe me, life is fantastic. Stop doing it now.
Personal Growth After the BPD Relationship
The Borderline Personality Disorder Recovery takes time, but you must make sure that you perform all steps:
  • Go to counseling and determine why you were in a relationship with a person stricken with BPD. 
  • Fix the causes.
  • Learn to re-establish clear, healthy boundaries
  • If you stopped going to church, go back. If you never went to church, start going. This is critical as the BPD relationship filled a hole in you. It was most likely the "God Shaped Hole" as my Pastor likes to say.
  • Re-establish relations with friends and family, if you choose.
  • Enjoy life -- it's wonderful when you don't have all of the worries that a BPD puts on you.

The Cycle of Abuse
A counselor that the BPD and I once saw told me that if I stayed in the relationship, that her actions would be considered abusive and would continue to be abusive. Of course, I didn't listen, but that's another story.

Borderlines have a different reality than the normal person, and they have such self-hatred and self-loathing that they do not understand how anyone could care for them and love them. Because of this, they think that the people around them must have something wrong with them, alterior motives, or reason to take advantage of the BPD. This is the basis for how they operate -- they do not want to feel alone, but they cannot fathom how someone would legitimately want to be with them. 

Ultimately, you need to feel bad for the BPD. You can get out of your depression, sadness or whatever you're feeling. The BPD will always feel the way that they do. They will always be unstable. Their fear is that others will discover that they are borderline, so they do whatever they can to hide this, include:
- Take no accountability for anything
- Change reality so they are not responsible and others are responsible
- Accuse others of having BPD and other mental illnesses

When I was with the BPD, I had:
- Narcissism 
- Dissociative Identity Disorder
- A compulsive lying problem
- The list goes on

Now, you look at these things and wonder how you could have stayed in the relationship for so long, but it was a slow, gradual process, getting pulled in with the constant idealizing, then being accused of being such a horrible person. The slow process eventually changes your boundaries and tolerance of such inappropriate accusations, actions and the like. 

The most amazing thing about Borderlines is that they look -- and appear -- that they are so well put together.  After all, they have spent years knowing that they viewed life differently, and it takes time to pinpoint the issues and make a decision to go. It took me nearly two years. You've never had life be so good, but you've never had it be so bad either. You cling to the good. When the bad begins to continually outweigh the good, it's time to move on.

Key Learnings

  • The BPD took advantage of my own self-doubt. They saw it then preyed on it, playing on my fears. 
  • The relationship with the BPD was critical to my growth as a person.
  • I'm now much more of a man because of the relationship with the BPD. I no longer try to meet other's needs before looking to meet my own. Life is a compromise, not a sacrifice.
Stay tuned. More will be posted in upcoming months. It won't be as regular as before, but as I feel the need to provide updates, I'll provide them.