Borderlines are experts at walking all over your boundaries. My relationship has taught me that. But a few days ago I had an epiphany: they don’t have any boundaries themselves.
Since I discovered that my pregnant girlfriend has Borderline Personality Disorder, my incessant reading has been transforming me into an expert on personality disorders.
My research on the subject has led me to understand why it is that my writing slowed down until it ground to a halt; why it is that my income went down; why it is that I lost so much sleep I became depressed.
I was letting my girlfriend walk all over me. It wasn’t that I never protested; it was just that her breaches of my boundaries were so frequent and insistent it became the new normal.
This does not mean that I’m a victim; far from it: I attracted her into my life, and it is obvious that I have lessons to learn from her just as she has things to learn from me.
The number one lesson that I have to learn is about personal boundaries.
It is pretty clear that I had and to some extent still have issues with boundaries. For instance, why did I allow her to shout at me for 48 hours straight (no kidding)? I did tell her to stop several times, but I never left the house. I thought that she needed me. As I sit here reading this, my rationalisations at the time are incredible to me. One thing is for certain, though: there is a part of my own psychology that has worked to enable the abusive behaviour of a severely personality disordered individual.
I would never stand for such an episode today; that is why it doesn’t happen anymore. I used to think that I needed to console her and make her see that I am not that bad man that she was saying I was. It was quite an epiphany when I discovered that she wasn’t interested in all that; the only thing that worked was simply to leave or show that I was willing to leave when she became violent.
This flies in the face of my upbringing, where I learnt that many men are abusive and don’t care about anything but drinking and cheating on their wives, and that to be a good guy you need to really listen to your woman to make sure you don’t mess with her emotions. Well I tried it, and it doesn’t work – not even a little bit. Even if, as I write these words, there is a lingering doubt inside me. Because part of me is still attached to this delusion. I’ll talk about this in a future blog post.
The thing is, when it comes to borderlines, they will do whatever you allow them to do. It’s kind of like a river. It won’t help to explain to the water that it has no reason to be angry with you, or that it will damage you if it floods your city; the only thing that works is for your dam to be watertight.
I have started acting in accordance with this insight, and it feels like I have made many gains. The latest one may seem insignificant, and it certainly is a small thing, but I think it is an important milestone: I insisted on keeping my laminated list of daily exercises in plain view in our place. She would otherwise always remove it to some unknown place after I had used it, and I would have to look for it. I explained that I wanted it in clear view because I want to see it and be reminded to do my daily exercises. She fought me as I knew she would; but I was calm and unyielding through the storm and in the end I prevailed. This was a couple of days ago, and she hasn’t touched the list since. It is a significant victory because otherwise the apartment is 99% decorated with her stuff.
A year ago I would never have dared to insist on something like this, and I wouldn’t have felt it was worth it. This is because at that time she would have thrown a ten-hour fit about it. Now that I know I will not accept such a fit, I am able to work on getting my life back.
I have to fight for every cubic centimetre of air, and I have to be ever ready to defend my boundaries. But it’s worth it: this is my life, and it is the only life I have. Perhaps if I continue to reconquer my space I will be able to go back to writing books.
So now I have talked about my issues with boundaries. But what about hers? Why do I say that borderlines don’t have boundaries?
Well, it was a discovery I made a few days ago. We were talking about the purchase of a new and bigger home. I was trying to keep the discussion rational, and I insisted through her tears that emotions don’t have a place in a discussion about property transactions. I was marvelling at hearing myself talking like that; it wasn’t long ago that her tears would have convinced me to take responsibility for the mortgage while allowing her to be the sole owner of the new place.
While caught in her emotional storm I somehow found the strength and clarity to tell her how concerned I am by the whole Borderline situation while having a baby on the way. Of course she took it as an attack and got extremely angry and started shouting and hurling insults. But I calmly insisted. She said everything she could possibly say, including how disappointed she was with me and that the whole Borderline thing was something I was saying to hurt her. I explained that I didn’t want to hurt her, which was why I had held back and had read about it silently, but that it was only fair that I told her what I was thinking. I said that tackling psychological issues should be the number one priority before the baby is born. I’m almost sure she broke up with me, but I can’t remember. She’s broken up with me hundreds of times. The main point was that she was extremely angry and opposed to what I was saying.
But then towards the end of the next day she stopped sulking and said she had liked that I had stuck to my guns. A coupe of days later I texted her the number of a psychologist. She texted back less than a minute later to tell me she had made an appointment.
This was a mindf*ck to me: she had been so vehemently opposed to even talking about it, and now she was making an appointment with a psychologist.
There are a lot of insights to be gleaned from this. The world is not as we were taught. I will go deeper into this matter in Borderlines without Boundaries II.