Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Building A Support System: Critical For Survival

When in a relationship with a Borderline, you begin to inherit the fears, insecurities and attributes of someone suffering with a borderline. After all, you hear much of their thinking and begin to internalize it.

I remember when I was in the relationship with the borderline that it was so tough because I thought that I felt her pain. I saw the pain that she went through and wished that I could help make it go away. Unfortunately, her twisted mind made me the reason for her pain -- this is the paradox that a partner of a BPD faces. You want to help the borderline with their pain and suffering, and if you're like me, you try everything to help their pain go away. When you think you're doing well, they tell you that the reason for their pain is you. Definitely a conflict and craziness.

If you're in a relationship with a borderline, you know the craziness. You feel like you've done all that you can, and it's just not enough. You tiptoe around them, waiting for the next explosion (the vengeance switch) to occur. You always have to be defensive, and just when you feel like you don't need to be defensive anymore, BAM -- they unleash their fury on you.

Sound familiar?

We All Need Support
I used to think that I was strong and I could handle anything on my own. Maybe it's a male quality or curse, but I felt so strong, like I could handle anything.

With that said, I've always had a strong support system. I have a family that I'm close with, a solid network of friends from high school and college that I can call on in a moment's notice.

I don't use them regularly, but I have used them when I needed them. When my ex wife and I separated, I called on my network of family and friends for support, and they were there.

My friend Chris was married to someone that he suspected had BPD before I was in the relationship with the BPD, so he was quite aware of what it was like being in the relationship that I was in. I had other friends that were quite helpful with moving out, and doing other things as well.

Reality Check
The most important function that a good support network provides is a peek back into reality. We all get caught up in our own little worlds, so to speak, and a good network will look into your world and tell you if it's normal or not. You should be able to call on a support system that brings you back to reality and keeps your mind stable, not being pulled back into the crazy world of a borderline.

"If you stay with her, I wouldn't be surprised if I got a phone call saying that you were dead, that she had killed you," my friend Eddie told me in December of 2007 when I told him what was happening in my relationship with the borderline.

Now that's a reality check, and bringing you out of your little world. That's a good friend that cares.

The Ideal Support System
If you don't have a good support system and you're in a relationship with a borderline, I highly recommend that you get one. Your support system should have the following components. While this is the ideal, you can substitute where necessary. Also, depending on your situation, you may not need such depth in support:

  • Friends/Family: Having people that know you and your past, your heart and your soul is important as you go through trials and tribulations
  • Support Group: There are issues that are specific with dealing with borderlines that are so similar, and it's good to have a support group to discuss such issues. Join a group such as Alanon or even an online codependency support group, such as Daily Strength.
  • Professional Support: Going to a counselor will also be sure that your psychological foundation is firm. I highly recommend going to a counselor to be sure that you don't have other issues, such as abandonment issues, that are contributing to your staying in an unhealthy relationship.
  • Continual Education: Reading topical books and blogs such as this one will educate you on the topic and help you feel more comfortable when issues arise. You'll know that these issues are not your fault, and that others have also gone through similar problems.
  • Spiritual Support: Understanding that humans have a spiritual side and this side needs to be cultivated and nurtured will help keep you well-rounded and humble. Pastors and spiritual advisors can also provide some basic support that can be invaluable. 
This, of course, is the Dream Team of support; you may not need all of these elements, but they will certainly help you. 

You do need a support system. It is critical while you recover, or tolerate, a borderline relationship. A solid support system will keep you in touch with reality, be a good place for you to share experiences and get support. Be sure to have a solid support system that meets your needs. If you need more help on this topic, drop me a line at mybpdrecovery@gmail.com and we'll help get you the resources that you need.


  1. What a great post. I will say that I became isolated during my relationship because of many reasons (him not liking my friends or just being caught up in drama) and I wish I would have built a support system and talked more about it. I tried to handle it on my own. Maybe I was embarrassed too at all of the up's and down's, verbal abuse and bpd behavior I kept trying to work out with him. For months I stopped even talking about it and should've just built a good support group, or joined one.

    Terrific idea's for recovering after the fact though! Thank you.

  2. Carefully planned adoration and devaluation? No way. You see the mind of us borderlines does not usually work that way. When we adore you, we really feel that we do. When we devalue you, it is honest as well, and we dont do it with the intent to harm maliciously, its simply a strong defense mechanism that we cannot control sometimes, and it inadvertantly hurt you. Most of us were severely abused and traumatized as children. We cried ourselves to sleep everynight wondering why daddy hates us. We were belittled and beaten, some of us sexually abused or raped as well. With no way to defend ourselves, our minds created defense mechanisms against these parents we loved but were abusing us. Unfortunately, these defenses remained with us as adults, causing disorder. I agree, if you must end a relationship with a borderline then you must do so. You dont deserve abuse. But dont demonize us either, we r just hurting, and u r very lucky you are not us.


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