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:
- Her explosion was more intense and lasted for longer
- 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.