Borderline Fright Night

As I mentioned in the last post, my girlfriend and I are in a loving relationship, but what I really don’t like is the violence.

It is important not to see myself as a victim, because I’m not. But at the same time it’s important to keep my eyes open and be conscious of what is going on. And that includes episodes that I know I’m not supposed to bring up with her.

As a codependent, my tendency is to defend the version of the truth that my personality disordered partner can tolerate.

However, as part of my healing process it is important that I be outspoken and address reality rather than the official story of our relationship.

So I will relate to you the latest outbreak of violence, which happened about five days ago. I don’t feel comfortable writing about it or even thinking about it, so I will relate the facts without going into the feelings.

Ok here goes.

I was sitting on the couch in the evening with our two months old daughter lying next to me. She had been crying a little bit, and I was holding her little hand as she held my finger tightly. She had stopped crying since I connected with her. I was breathing with her. As a codependent/empath I can feel people, or at least I like to think so.

At this point my girlfriend entered the room from the kitchen. She had shouted to me to take our daughter in my arms when she was crying. Now as she entered the room she did not focus on the fact that the baby wasn’t crying anymore, and that I was holding her hand, but on the fact that I wasn’t holding her in my arms as she had told me to.

“You can help out if you want. If you don’t want to, that’s fine too,” she said.

I didn’t know what to say to this.

“Now you see me,” she said. “But it is likely that soon you won’t see me anymore.”

I still didn’t know what to say. I kept holding baby’s hand, and I noticed that baby was still calm.

“I thought I could rely on you to watch her while I cooked some food. But it seems you’re not even willing to do that, you fucking useless lazy bitch!” my girlfriend said, giving my leg a hard kick.

I immediately kicked her leg without thinking, from where I sat on the sofa. It wasn’t a hard kick, and yet it was a meaningless act of retaliation. I guess if something was going through my head it was my earlier decision to no longer allow the situation to happen where she would be aggressive and I would be the one apologising. I had decided not to let violence be worth her while.

“You kicked me!” she exclaimed. “After my operation. You bastard!”

She leaned over to pick up the baby.

“Don’t pick her up,” I said, composing myself. “She’s calm.”

She ignored me, unclasped baby’s hand from my finger and picked her up. Baby started to cry.

She carried her into the kitchen. I sat there, doing my best to continue what I was doing, and to remember where I had got to.

She soon appeared again.

“You know what I’ve been thinking,” she said.

“I think you’re a schizophrenic. You live in your own world. You don’t care about me. I don’t even think you care about your daughter. You have diagnosed me with some psychiatric disorder. What was it you called it? Well I think you’re a schizophrenic.”

It is true that I had told her six months ago that I think she has BPD. But I had waited for months for the right moment to tell her. We were on vacation, she was relaxed and listening to what I said, and I had a sympathetic Youtube video prepared, made by a sufferer of borderline personality disorder, explaining how it feels to have the disorder. My girlfriend watched the video and said, “I feel exactly like that girl. I think I have what she has.”

So not only had she agreed at the time, but also my motivation had been to find help for her, so that she would be better and the baby would be better.

She left again with the crying baby. She soon returned and repeated that I was a schizophrenic. Baby started crying hard, and she started rocking her in her arms, saying:

“My god I’m all alone. No help. I have to deal with everything alone. God, what have I done to deserve this hell?”

I asked her to give the baby to me. “I’ll stay with her,” I said. I wanted baby to be able to relax and stop crying. I wanted my girlfriend to feel better. For my own sake I also wanted some peace and quiet, staying alone with the baby with my angry girlfriend in the other room.

“You no longer have the right to touch this child,” she declared. “You no longer live here. Go and sleep somewhere else. Why are you still here? Fuck off!”

I went to my room and packed my bag with the most necessary stuff. But I couldn’t make myself leave. So I stayed there in my room and tried to focus on reading something.

A while later I heard baby crying hard. I went to the living room where I found her in the pram. I picked her up. Then my girlfriend appeared.

“Didn’t I tell you,” she said. “You’re no longer allowed to touch her!” I didn’t really know what to say. “Give her to me,” she continued.

“No,” I said.

“Do you really want me to stab you?” She asked.

I decided I didn’t want any more escalation, so I gave her the baby.

“Now fuck off,” she said.

I went and got my bag and went to the apartment door. Pretty soon she was with me.

“I can see you’re not feeling well,” she said. “So you can stay the night. I don’t want you on my conscience if something bad happens to you. But tomorrow you’ve got to leave for good.”

“I’m ready to leave,” I said. “Do you want me to leave? Just say the word and I’m gone.”

“I don’t care what you do,” she replied. I know her well enough to know that that meant she wanted me to stay.

So I went to my room (I have my own room now). I was exhausted from lack of sleep and emotional aggravation.

I put my metal laptop stand on the floor just in front of the door. The door opens inwards, so I would be woken by the light metal scraping against the floor if she were to enter. I wanted to have a couple of seconds’ warning just in case. It might seem exaggerated, but I just didn’t feel 100% safe.

A couple of minutes later the door did open, noisily blocked by the laptop stand. She shouted a few things at me, demanding that I unblock the entrance. I didn’t comply.

She left but came back a few minutes later to push the door open hard and shout some more and tell me to clear the entrance. “You’re ruining my floor!” she shouted, as she realised that her pushing might harm the floor.

I went to bed with my trousers on, so I would be ready to jump out of bed if necessary. This does not necessarily mean that there was any real danger. It could also be my own childhood trauma activating, with me reliving the fear I felt as a child.

However I fell asleep almost immediately, and slept for nine hours. That is really a testimony not only to how exhausted I was but also to how accustomed I have grown to these episodes.

The next day things were back to normal. That’s why it’s a good thing that I’m writing this done; I am actually shocked by my own account. It’s as if we have a silent agreement to treat these episodes as if they didn’t happen, and part of me seems to believe that it never happened. So when I write down these details it’s almost unbelievable to me.

For the next couple of days, people remarked on how rested I looked. They told me I usually look so tired but now I looked great.

“I don’t know what you’re doing,” someone said. “But keep doing it.”

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Love in the Time of Disorder

My relationship with my borderline girlfriend is currently more loving than it has been for a long time. I have accepted that I love her a lot, and I am doing my best to not see things in black or white: She is not a demon and I am not an innocent victim.

Things are nuanced. To illustrate this, I would split us up in at least two parts each:

She has the part where she is a wonderful, beautiful person. And she also has the part where she is completely taken over by the borderline pain body demon.

I, for my part, have the part of me that strives to be a harmonious person who does good in the world. As such I recognise her wonderfulness and beauty. And I have the part of me that is a raging co-dependent who trauma bonds with the borderline demon and does all it can to recreate the abuse I experienced as a child.

So we both have at least two parts to ourselves, and her two parts fit mine like a glove.

I am in love with her, and I know that she is in love with me.

I really have nothing to complain about. I suppose I am realising that this is the perfect relationship for me, at least for the moment, since this is the relationship my unconscious mind keeps clinging to.

Other couples live in loveless union, but that is not the case for us.

The trouble in our relationship, the one thing that really sours things from my point of view, is the violence.

The last temper tantrum took place three or four nights ago. She started a fight on a pretext. She kept provoking me until I reacted and talked back. I was proud, though, that I managed not to mirror the foul language of the borderline demon. I can’t remember all the things she called me, nor do I want to. The most recurrent accusation was that I’m a schizophrenic. The fright night culminated when I picked up the baby because she was (understandably) crying. My girlfriend told me to hand over the baby immediately because I wasn’t worthy of touching her ever again. When I refused to hand over the baby immediately, she said, “Do you really want me to stab you?” I handed over the baby, because I didn’t want to contribute to things spiralling out of control. I have far more self-control than she does, so when things start to get out of hand I feel that it rests with me to contain the situation.

It would be easy for me to complain about a situation like that. But I’ve got to take responsibility for it. I have realised that a non-traumatised person would not stay with my girlfriend, regardless of her beauty and intelligence. So I guess my unconscious mind is demanding loud and clear that I face the situation and deal with the trauma of my childhood.

It is like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces show me the way they want to fit together. Yet the temptation is to look the other way. It will take a lot of courage to completely solve this jigsaw and then look at the image that is shaped at the end.

 

Borderline and Narcissist under the Same Roof

My mother is currently visiting us. It is her first visit since I became aware that my girlfriend is a borderline, and even that there is such a thing as personality disorders.

It is both painful and fascinating to see these two deeply damaged women interacting with each other and with me.

When I discovered the Cluster B personality disorders, I quickly identified my mother as suffering from NPD. This is the first time that I see the two of them together, and I can clearly see the behavioural differences between the two disorders.

Before this visit I used to think about how my mother’s rage, although extremely stressful and unpredictable, has never been as intense as my girlfriend’s. So I used to feel that although I definitely paired up with my girlfriend due to trauma connected with my mother, I had managed to land myself in an even worse situation.

My view has now become more nuanced. It îs true that an overt narcissist such as my mother is less intensely violent than a borderline; but the downside is the utter lack of empathy shown by the person with NPD. While the borderline is able to smile impatiently while you talk about something other than her personal tragedy, the overt narcissist needs to immediately ridicule whatever you’re talking about, as yet another means to show off her greatness.

With the knowledge I have accumulated over the past months, I can see how traumatised a child (such as I was) must become from living in an environment where his voice is completely invalidated unless he is saying something that directly supports his parent’s self-image or worldview.

I can see how I became a co-dependent and why I have this tendency to be such a discrete presence that people often jump when they see me because they had no idea I was in the room.

I am beginning to see the mechanism by which I have tended to get together with violent and hurtfully self-obsessed women, and been the supporter of narcissistic male artists, and best friends with a man whom I now see as having anti-social personality disorder.

Throughout my childhood, in order to survive the experience and receive love, I was compelled to become an expert at understanding and relating with extremely difficult people. I even built up a sort of pride that I was the only person who could make such a person act in a sensible way.

So I naturally fell into the role of adviser, lover, shadow and emotional tampon for such people.

I am having these revelations as I write.

Yesterday I had a long talk with my mother, and I finally got her to tell me about my grandmother and other elements of family history it is amazing how the same patterns seem to take shape.

But that is for another post.

Energy Stealing: How it Happens

As you perhaps know, I am in a relationship with a woman with borderline personality disorder. As difficult as this experience has been so far, it is supremely educational. I am coming to accept that all the aggravation of the last couple of years is exactly what needed to happen, even if it was not what I consciously intended.

    One of the many things that this relationship is teaching me is what energy stealing is, how it works and why it happens.

    I think the reason for this is that people with borderline personality disorder feel deeply abandoned. They don’t feel that anyone could ever love or care for them in the way that they so desperately crave; so they go for the consolation prize, which is to control and leach off of the people they are close to.

    This reaction of energy stealing is not unique to BPD, but is common for anyone who is sufficiently “down ” in life: it seems like life and the world are against the person in question, so they feel they must take what they can before someone else does.

    So what does energy stealing mean?

    It is common to hear someone say: “so-and-so drains my energy.” 

    Furthermore it is highly likely that you yourself have had the experience of someone stealing or draining your energy. The most common symptoms are that you feel tired and out of sorts after spending time with the person in question, and that they feel energised.

    But what does energy stealing actually mean? It sounds very esoteric. It’s not stealing barrels of oil. Stealing barrels of oil is a form of energy stealing that can be described accurately: somebody steals a certain number of barrels of oil. The number of kilowatts of energy that he is able to utilise from burning the oil represents the energy he has stolen from the original owner. Interpersonal energy stealing, on the other hand, how does it actually happen?

    Well, that is one of the things that my borderline relationship is forcing me to discover.

    After a few years of intense experience, my conclusion is that energy stealing takes place by the energy thief making the victim betray his or her own self while investing energy into a construct that is closer to the energy thief’s identity at the time than that of the victim.

    Ok so this was quite a complicated sentence. Let’s illustrate it with an example.

    Let’s say that you want to give me a TV, because you know that I don’t have one. Your truth about the situation is that you want to give it to me just because you want to. 

    Now let’s say that instead of being grateful, I say, “You expect me to cart that thing back to my house?! I really don’t have time for that.” Now imagine you really want to help me despite my less than grateful attitude. So you assure me that you will drive it to my house. You feel a little less happy about the situation but OK, you decided to help me, and that is what you’re going to do.

    Now imagine I say, “What!? You’re going to leave that huge thing on my doorstep? What will the neighbours say? I would be forced to carry it upstairs. I would probably break my bad back.”

    So you say you’ll carry it upstairs for me. 

    Now imagine that instead of being grateful, I say, “Well you have to PROMISE me that you will do it. I can’t have that thing blocking the door downstairs.”
    Now imagine that you make a superhuman effort and don’t tell me to go to hell.

    “I promise,” you mumble.

    I have now drained most of your energy. 

    The way this happened was that you started out with the idea that you were doing a good deed and would make me happy. You had a lot of energy and happiness, and we’re investing it in your truth: that you were giving me something because you wanted to help me and spread your happiness around.

    But then I went and made it look as if you were trying to create trouble for me, and I was doing you a favour by accepting your gift. I forced you to reinforce my reality by making you promise to not cause me damage with the TV you wanted to give me.

    Thus I made you betray your own reality and invest your energy in my reality. 

    Not only did I take away your happiness, I also completely destroyed it by souring the whole thing so much. 

    And at the same time I got your energy, so this behaviour was reinforced in me.

    This is how energy stealing happens, and why it is so common.

    The Implicit “now”

    When a person with borderline or. narcissistic personality disorder makes a request of someone close to them, you can almost hear the word “now” at the end of each sentence.

    Although the word is never pronounced, there are harsh consequences if you don’t immediately abandon whatever you were doing to attend to the needs of the cluster B person in your life.

    I know this from personal experience. When my borderline girlfriend asks me to do something, she stands there staring until I drop whatever’s in my hands to go and help her. If I decide to take even a few seconds to finish whatever I was doing, she takes it as a personal insult and reacts in unforeseeable and disproportionate ways. 

    So much so that for a long period I was terrorised out of my mind trying to guess what she wanted. Because often the request itself wasn’t verbalised, and only the punishment was palpable.

    This behaviour pattern is common amongst borderlines and narcissists. Why is this? Why is it so important for people with these disorders to interrupt you?

    The answer to this question is to be found in the essence of these disorders. 

    Borderline personality disorder is characterised by a deep feeling of abandonment. So borderlines are constantly trying to fill that hole of loneliness. If a borderline can make someone change their plans for them, then they can get a short-lived high of feeling important to that person. As mentioned in my previous post, the language that borderlines understand is that of force; so I would guess that forcing someone to act as if they care is often as close as a borderline can get to feeling security about being loved. 

    Narcissistic personality disorder is characterised by an incessant need to overcompensate for a deep feeling of inadequacy. This is done by constantly pumping the narcissist’s image as a powerful achiever. So the narcissist gets his or her power confirmed by being able to make another person set aside his own plans in favour of those of the narcissist. 

    On a deeper level, these behaviours are a method of energy stealing. But that is the subject of the next post.

    It’s a Girl

    It’s been three weeks since my last post. A lot has happened since then, the biggest event being the birth of our daughter.

    I had been very worried about the time after the birth. My girlfriend’s behaviour is often very violent, and as a sufferer of BPD, she has rapid and extreme mood swings. I was afraid she would take it out on the baby.

    A few months ago I went to see a psychotherapist who is also a consultant psychiatrist and specialised in personality disorders. He counselled me to wait and see till after the birth. He said that some borderlines do indeed take their moods out on their children, while others protect their children and take their negative emotions out on their partners or other people.

    Fortunately, my girlfriend has turned out to be in the latter category: she protects our daughter. She takes good care of her. She still freaks out and feels sorry for herself, but she controls herself far more than she did before the birth. I have seen her hitting the mattress of the bed when she couldn’t take how much the baby was crying. I noticed how she made sure to hit outside of baby’s line of vision. Still, since baby was lying on the bed, she naturally felt the vibrations and the vibe. 

    She does many good things, and as I have said before, she is not a bad person. Her disorder arose from traumatic experiences in her childhood. For instance, she often says, “Look, baby, there’s daddy! How lucky you are to have a daddy who cares for you.” Her own dad never touched or praised her. 

    She says many cute things to baby. However she sometimes also says things like, “Can’t you leave me the fuck alone for five minutes?! I’m a human being too, you know!”

    There are ups and downs every day, but I must say things are far better than before the birth. She doesn’t have time to make huge scenes, and indeed she is making a big effort to make things ok between us. 

    Still, the underlying problems are always there, like sleeping predators raising their heads once in a while to growl menacingly; but she is truly making an effort, and she is treating me better than I thought she was capable of.

    Lately I have occasionally felt that love from the beginning of our relationship. But this time I am aware that when her behaviour is good, it is because the balance of power is in my favour. It has swung my way since I started learning to set boundaries. It is a big lesson for me, because those boundaries are tested many times a day. It doesn’t come naturally to me, because my default attitude is that people can do what they want with their lives, and I can do what I want with mine. However after two and a half years I have realised that my girlfriend doesn’t understand this concept, and that she interpreted it as weakness that she could take advantage of. So now, when I feel there is a potential temper tantrum on its way, I look her in the eyes like a wolf that is not afraid to fight. That usually makes her back down, and often she even behaves nicely after that.

    As a co-dependent, it took a long time for me to realise that people don’t generally treat you well because you treat them well. This is especially the case with a borderline, who is mostly deaf to any other language than force. 

    Gaslighting

    In last week’s post I told you about the paradisal state I was in, in which my pregnant, borderline girlfriend was being really nice to me. I told you about how it had almost been like in the love-bombing phase at the beginning of our relationship, and how it was due to me doing what she wanted or being nice to her, but rather due to me setting a hard boundary and deciding not to buy an apartment with her after all.

    Of course it didn’t last. Borderlines are people who suffer from acute inner pain. That is why in a relationship they tend to use their partner as a dustbin into which they can release their toxins. So a permanent state of not being aggressive or violent would just not be feasible: at one point the borderline person is no longer able to keep up the self-restraint that is necessary in order not to explode and get rid of some of the pain. So after two or three weeks of being really nice to me, she exploded with a vengeance. The things she shouted to me were incredibly hurtful. Nothing new in that. But the fact that she had kept it in for so long had two consequences:

    1. Her explosion was more intense and lasted for longer
    2. I was taken aback because I was no longer used to it.

    Due to these two factors, I did not react correctly. I should have left as soon as things got nasty. Instead, I fought back, both because I was shocked and because since things had been so good I thought there was a chance she would stop when she would see that she couldn’t get some easy energy stealing from me anymore.

    So I answered with things such as: “I think you’re talking about yourself” or accusing her of the exact things she was accusing me of. It wasn’t that I really felt a need to say those things about her but only that I felt that all this was so unfair, and I wanted her to see how hurtful it was. I wasn’t in my right element. I could feel my energy dropping as I engaged in the argument.

    Of course it only made things worse. It made the pendulum of the argument swing harder and faster.

    The argument lasted for hours. I wasn’t able to fall asleep for a long time after. I sat in the kitchen reading stuff online while she snored away in the living room. It always amazes me how quickly she falls asleep after an argument.

    After this followed two days of icy silence. I wasn’t angry that she wasn’t talking with me; on the contrary I felt genuine contrition for having talked to her like that. Even if she had had said worse things, I could see how hurt she was when I turned her words on herself. It was as if she wasn’t aware that she had just said the same things to me, and she was taking the words I repeated back to her as if they were my genuine opinion of her. I resolved that I wouldn’t do that again.

    Two nights later she broke the icy silence and exploded again. Another argument followed, lasting several hours. The theme of the argument was her telling me that all her friends are urging her to break up with me. She said that she only says nice things about me to her friends but that they draw their own conclusions from her words. I could imagine how she made them draw their own conclusions; I’ve seen her doing the same with other people, talking about how incredibly badly they treated her, but saying it with a laugh and a smile. Then her conversational partner stops her and says: “What?! But that’s unacceptable.” She then says, “No, it’s OK…” and then baits them further.

    She also told me she had been to a psychologist since the last argument. She had told him all the things I had said to her during the argument (but not the things she had said to me), and he had told her that she is not a borderline, and that she could sue me for causing her psychological damage during pregnancy.

    I didn’t respond to her in the same way during this argument. I mostly stayed silent, but I did show her that I didn’t believe the part about her friends drawing their own conclusions, and challenged her, asking her who this psychologist was. She refused to tell me.

    Of course, it was extremely stressful to listen to. Although I was rejecting her claims, I did feel guilty about making her suffer. And the whole thing with the psychologist made me think she may be able to use it against me if it comes to a custody battle.

    It went on for so long, and I was mostly just listening to it. So I started to feel like I was the aggressor here.

    I guess this is what they call gaslighting. I can’t get rid of all the guilt I feel at this moment, because I did react inappropriately in the first argument; but at the same time I have learned that I can’t go chasing after her all the time trying to force her to relax and not cause stress to the baby. I know from months of experience that this is something that I cannot wholly control. At the same time, of course, I must behave responsibly and not let the frustration get the better of me.

    Co-Dependent-Borderline Magnetism 

    A couple of weeks ago, my pregnant, Borderline girlfriend threw me out of the house and told me never to come back.

    She has thrown me out probably almost 100 times, accompanied by extremely harsh words. What was special about this time was that a few days later we were scheduled to sign the papers for buying an apartment together ahead of the birth.

    I agonised about the situation. I felt that I had a responsibility to buy that apartment with her, even though it was very likely I wouldn’t be living there for long, and I would have to continue to pay off the mortgage for decades whilst paying child support plus the rent of a new place for myself.

    I generally think of money as a secondary concern, so my initial sentiment was that it wouldn’t be a problem, and at least my child would have a good place to live when she wasn’t with me.

    However, male friends told me that they know of many men who thought that way initially but then ended up living in a studio whilst working hard to finance their ex-wife’s mansion. They essentially became workhorses. I could see my dreams of continuing my writing career going out of the window.

    I was torn, because I felt that signing that paper would be the right thing to do. Someone asked me if I thought she would sign off on paying for an apartment she wasn’t going to live in. I said of course not but that’s different.

    After agonising for a long time I told her, as gently as I could, that I thought we should postpone real estate acquisitions until we have more stability.

    I was very afraid of saying this, and to some extent she had to draw the words out of me. I am coming to realise that it is this weakness of mine that predisposes me to a relationship with a cluster B person.

    As Ross Rosenberg pointed out in his book, The Human Magnet Syndrome, the partner of the Cluster B person is generally a Co-Dependent. Co-dependency is a psychological problem in itself. It’s pretty hard for me to come to this conclusion about myself, but it seems to be the reality.  I have issues and she has issues, and our issues is the glue that keeps us bound so strongly to one another.

    Yes, it is very hard to accept. I feel like I’m planet Earth and I’ve just realised that the sun isn’t revolving around me after all. And – even more crazily – that I am in fact revolving around the sun.

    Her immediate reaction to my words was: “Fine. Then from this moment on everything is over between us.”

    For the next two days she came home late and repeatedly sent me texts saying I should take as much time as I needed to move my stuff out of her place.

    However after two days she asked me what she could do to save the relationship. I said “See a therapist.” She promised she would.

    After that she treated me really, really well for about two weeks. She surprised me by cooking food for me and even leaving it for when I would come home. She hardly criticised me at all. It was like the beginning of our relationship (commonly known as the Love Bombing stage).

    I couldn’t believe it. I had been so afraid of saying no. But the result was that she treated me better than ever.

    For a Co-Dependent to say no to a Borderline. Now that is progress.

    Stand up to the Borderline Bully

    How to resist energy the stealing of an abusive partner.

     

    When you’re in a relationship with someone with a Cluster B personality disorder, you’re really in a relationship with two entities.

    What do I mean by this?

    Well, there’s the beautiful, attractive and charming human being that they are. These qualities are the reason you’re with them. And then there’s the ugly Cluster B demon that is not only abusing you but also abusing the person you love.

    So what to do? You love this person, that’s why you’re with them. And you may have some great times with them. But they abuse you regularly. You want to be having a relationship where you help to elevate each other and make each others’ lives better. But just as you think that things are going really well, the demon rears its ugly head and abuses you with the mouth and hands of the person you are closest to.

    In many cases (especially if they are Borderline or Histrionic) you can also see how much they are suffering whilst abusing you. This pains you, because you love them and you really want them to be happy. You want to help them, but at the same time they are shouting at you, fine-tuning their words as they home in on whatever hurts you the most.

    I recently returned from a few days abroad. I had some things to take care of, but mostly I spent my time reading and meditating. As the days went by, I found myself feeling better and better. The simple fact of not being in a stressful environment made me feel ecstatic.

    When I returned home to the stressful environment, I had an epiphany. I realised that no matter what a wonderful person my girlfriend is at her core, my presuppositions about the relationship had been wrong.

    I had thought I could relax with her and let down my guard. But after having a few days alone, I came back and saw that this idea was what had made me such an easy target for energy stealing. It was kind of like there was a war going on that one of the sides wasn’t aware of.

    I realised that in about 90% of our interactions, she coats her words with an aggressive, blaming, threatening or shaming choice of words and tone of voice. I saw how my immediate instinct was to try to placate her in order to avoid escalating the situation. I saw how unconsciously many of my reactions were grounded in fear. After such an exchange I saw how she would have more energy while I would have less, and she would use that energy to smile and make the whole thing look like a joke, with me as the punchline.

    The crazy thing is that I used to be relieved when that would be the case, because when I would see her making a joke – even an abusive joke – it would mean that she would be unlikely to go into a 48-hour yelling spree.

    I think my being relieved when she would feel good in her abuse of me is a symptom of a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. In any case, a few days ago when I saw what was going on, I made the decision to stop enabling it.

    So now whenever she approaches me with negative energy, I give it right back to her. This is a huge challenge for me.

    I was brought up to be empathetic towards people; now what I’m teaching myself is to refuse to open myself up to another person’s sadness. It is even more difficult because this is the person I’m in love with.

    I’m only a few days in, but I think the results are good. When she approaches me with unjustified anger, I give her anger right back. It doesn’t make me feel good, because I don’t like the feeling of anger. But after two and a half years of living in this environment, it is no longer feasible to respond with positivity. What I do gain from responding with anger against anger is that I am teaching her that she can’t steal energy from me anymore.

    Previously she could always fall back on the threat of a temper tantrum if I didn’t tow her line. I was very afraid of this, because I had seen her shout for 48 hours straight (with a six-hour sleep break). However for the last few months I have left the house whenever she throws a temper tantrum. So now she doesn’t go completely ballistic anymore. This means that I’m able to reject her when she tries to wipe her emotional garbage off on me. I respond with the same level of anger, but I’m careful not to escalate.

    So there you have it: if you’re in a relationship with a Cluster B or any other abusive person, do not allow their violence to penetrate your boundary. Do not feel guilty about their unhappiness, do not apologise, do not kowtow to the Cluster B demon.

    These are usually highly intelligent people. They are experts at blurring boundaries and attacking you in areas where you can’t be sure. If you’re a conscientious human being then you will have the nagging doubt that maybe they are right. Perhaps it is your fault after all…

    To this I say: Yes, they may be “right” in some areas. But the essential thing is that threats, blame, manipulation and violence have no place in a relationship. Being “right” about some detail is not an excuse for being violent.

    One final note: it seems extremely harsh to be talking about my lover in this way. I feel it acutely as I write these lines. That is the reason why it took me so long to arrive at this conclusion. But the truth is that the only way to deal with this level of energy stealing from someone you live with is to be ready for war whenever the disorder shows its face, no matter how much it seems to come at you out of the blue.

    Conversely, you must be ready to be kind and loving whenever the disorder gives up trying to get through your boundary, and the human returns to you, looking for a hug.

     

    Borderline Bluff

    People who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder will often keep attacking right up to the point where their bluff is called. That’s what my girlfriend did this weekend. 

    A few mornings ago I had showered, had breakfast and packed my bag for the day. I was leaving for work when my girlfriend woke up and snapped:

    “Did you wash up, or are you leaving that disgusting mess with me?” She was referring to about three plates and a few knives and forks and mugs in the kitchen.

    Now, at this point I would previously be far more peace-seeking. I would either go straight out and wash up or apologise for not having washed up, and ask if it would be OK if I washed up when I got home a few hours later, because I would be home before her. I would be terrified that she would go completely ballistic, so I would do all I could to calm the waters.

    However, my approach has changed since I had a certain epiphany. That epiphany is that I am dealing with two personalities here: I’m dealing with my girlfriend and I’m dealing with her BPD. The BPD entity will do whatever it can get away with; it only understands the language of force. The times I have sought to placate it, it has taken full advantage of my concessions.

    The times when I tried to soften her words and bring her into harmony with me, she took it as a sign of weakness and a permission to drain my energy. So this time I let her words be what they were, and raised my shield.

    “Yes, I’m leaving that disgusting mess,” I snapped back. “I have to go and work. I’ll wash it up when I come home at 12 o’clock.”

    “You bastard!” she shouted. I left. I was determined to get to the office with enough energy and focus to do the work I had planned. She followed me out in the hallway and continued to shout at me. I made sure not to listen to her words. I just mimicked her nagging tone and got into the lift.

    As I sat in my office, my phone kept lighting up next to my laptop. I looked out of the corner of my eye at the text messages that were rolling in.

    “Now I understand why the real estate deal is so delayed. It is so that I would understand what a monster you are. I regret that I made the mistake of becoming pregnant with someone like you. You are not a human being. I have monitored you and hoped, but you are not a human being. I will manage somehow. I will buy the apartment on my own. Somehow I will manage to pay the huge mortgage. This is too much for me to bear, but I will manage.”

    This was the first out of elleven messages that came in quick succession.

    When she got home that evening, she refused to talk with me, but her body language was very loud. She put on one of her favourite TV programs. It’s about a bunch of billionaires’ wives getting into cat fights and having plastic surgery. The atmosphere was toxic. I went to sleep wondering if I would wake up with a knife in my body. I realise those were my own fears. She has never done anything like that. I guess it was the stress that made me think along those lines.

    The next day I got out of there before she woke up. I grabbed my laptop and went to a cafe to work. A new string of toxic text messages followed. When I got home, she was lying on the couch, holding her belly and moaning. She pointedly refused to talk to me but called a friend and told her she would have to go to the hospital because her belly was hurting. When she hung up I asked how I could help and said that we’d better go to the hospital now. She said, “You had a chance to help me, but it’s too late now.”

    I replied that I’m done feeling guilty, but that I want to help.

    I stuck around in the uncomfortable silence interrupted by the frenetic sound of a celebrity plastic surgery programme on TV. I repeated that I wanted to help.

    She started shouting at me to fuck off, to get out of her house, to stop ruining her life.

    I said that I wanted to help.

    She continued to shout. I said that I would leave if that would make her feel better. She kept shouting to me to fuck off.

    I started packing a bag. She kept shouting. Finally I lifted it hesitantly and walked towards the door. She stopped shouting and started sobbing loudly. I walked over and held her in my arms. She sobbed on my shoulder. I asked her if she wanted me to stay. She said, “I don’t care!” I knew that meant that she wanted me to stay.

    I stayed and consoled her. Her behaviour improved, and now everything is back to “normal”.

    So there you have it: call the Borderline’s bluff. Borderlines will go as far as they can, but I’m beginning to think that they will usually not go any further.