Blended family and BPD Wife
Unfortunately I find myself dealing with the fallout of separating from my BPD wife...
I met my wife through online means. She was everything I wanted and more - her values, her wit, her looks, the sex, the similarities and instant compatibility. The romance moved at record rates and seemingly without a hitch. We met each others children/family/lives and no alarm bells sounded.
Then due to matters of coincidence I found myself need to move house (I was renting at the time) and she insisted we should be together. I moved to hers and it seemed so easy. Before too long we spoke of buying a place together and then marriage.
After 12 months and one new house later we got married and this is where the fairy tale ended.
The night of our wedding came the most illogical aggressive argument about nothing. Her venom laden words seemed to morph into new topics with no time to stop and evaluate what the issues were. It was like a 3 year old tantrum. The fight finally came to a close when she uttered the words 'it's me or your child - you choose' (I am an every second weekend dad).
As soon as those words came I knew there was something much darker at work than simple unchecked emotions.
From there my wife could barely go for much more than a week without firing up at me or her youngest daughter (living with us). I started to notice the same daughter suffering - little OCD's and hurting herself behind her bedroom door to silence the pain. The oldest daughter had already been kicked out by mum to live with her dad.
The unpredictability escalated & I found out she used antidepressants.
I started to research the symptoms and behaviours and stumbled upon countless BPD forums and guides - this was it without a doubt: the love bomb tactics, everyone else is to blame, distorted facts, lies and excessive anger, the changes of subject when confronted, not answering questions, the use of whatever shouted verbal weapon would get results & the quest for forgiveness and compassion when she'd ebbed down days later.
I managed to get her to go to a Psychiatrist. She was at least honest (I was in the room). Although the assessment process seemed short the Doc said she showed enough traits to be considered mild BPD. Since then its only intensified.
In moments I know she has tried to get better and I've loved, supported & been patient with her. I've not been mentally affected but I know its time to sell and say goodbye to the dream - it was never real anyway.
I think the hardest thing about separating from someone with a mental disorder like BPD is that you give so much of yourself to what you hope will be a shared future... only to have it fall well short... to have nothing to show for your efforts.
Then when it comes to the crux and you're faced with no alternative but to leave - despite the countless efforts to help her find a pathway to a better life - it leaves you feeling very empty.
Its been almost a year of solid mood shifts and I need to remember that. A year of walking on eggshells just in case she goes off... just in case someone sits on the couch the wrong way (despite the dogs having free reign) or drops a piece of popcorn and BPD takes a sharp turn… I was even blamed for not doing a chore that she asked someone else to do - that's right - I wasn't even asked but I was supposed to know to do that job if they didn't!
There are moments where her sanity prevails and she knows she's behaved badly but says she can't remember what she has said in the heat of the angriest moments to me. I guess I will never know the truth there.
Momentarily I have just twinkles of self doubt as I go through this journey. But I've called this off and for good reason... there has been one too many rolls of the emotional tantrum dice at my or other's expense... How can I be a good father and set the example of what is and isn't acceptable if as a man I just swallow bad behaviour.
Of course she seems unmoved by it all - so cold... Yes there have been a couple of "I hope you remember me fondly type of texts" but nothing to indicate the slightest genuine remorse and not one single tear.
Part of me wants to demand to know why it has to be like this - why on earth you would choose to get married when this is all you bring to the table... unfortunately inwardly and logically I know that mental disorders possess no logic and perhaps that's the hardest thing I face - accepting that there is no rationale that will make sense and asking the question will only leave me falling short of knowing the real truth.
There are times I wish I could park common sense and just let everything out in a loud unfettered scream like she and others do...
For those that read this... please share your thoughts... its the thoughts from others than provide capacity to digest a bitter pill.
For now I choose to remain silent in our house while we wait to sell...
Welcome to the forum.
Incan understand how confused you were to see how your wife changed on the wedding night and how you have cope with walking on eggshells.
Firstly, I do not have BPD but do know people who do have it and I u derstand it varied from person to person.
I do have bipolar. I know the difficulty of being in a relationship when one has a mental illness.
What I know about BOD is that there is a big fear of being abandoned and so some people will behave so badly so the other person will leave and then they can say, see I was right everyone leaves me.
Do yoi know if your wife had issues of abandonment in her childhood?
A friend that has BPD knows that she pushes people away and tests people and at times says really hurtful things but she says she can’t control it.
it makes no sense and trying to find sense with a mental illness will just frustrate you as you have found out.
Does your wife take any medication or attend counselling for her BPD.?
There are threads about BPD and if you find the search box at the top of the page, you may find threads that you may find helpful.
Feel free to post here as much as you feel like.
I am sure people who have experience with BOD will reply to you.
Thanks Quirky for taking the time to read and post.
My wife was sent up for adoption as a baby. I believe there is also some sexual trauma during her teenage years however this is a subject that at best was glossed over in passing.
There are certainly some indicators that BPD may have been triggered by these and other as yet to be disclosed events. She now won’t talk to her adoptive parents or the non related brother they adopted as well. Her eldest daughter and her cant go two minutes without fighting. The youngest daughter is remarkably well adjusted and a good human being despite what she has to endure.
At this stage she has regressed even further with the separation process upon us both - any conversation is greeted with aggression. Stay or go - I don’t feel I have many options here I can be a good father as well. I have forgiven her more times than I can count in our time together but at each stage of being forgiven she seems to increase in destructiveness... I have chosen to advise her to not ask me this time as it will not be given - that’s about severing ties and making it clear that what has gone on is unacceptable.
I have genuinely loved her but she no longer wishes to address any notion that she may be the cause or at least even a contributor to her own unhappiness... more so than ever she deflects to everybody else being the issue. She only really speaks to me in upper volume shouting now and not a lot of sense can be found in what she says.
I wish I could get her to break down her protective barriers and even just cry so we could make some headway. I am compassionate and supportive and have done nothing but try to be helpful until it became apparent that she would not even help herself... last time I forgave she swore black and blue to do whatever it took but 48 hours later we are back to the same stuff - I didn’t even unpack anything I’d packed up from the previous breakup,
She has at least called some agents herself for the sale of our property so at least she is moving forward to some degree by acknowledging the end...
there is only so much a person can do ... if she can’t be accountable to her own actions she can never learn.
From what i can gather you don't seem to know much about your wife at all, didn't know she was on anti depressants, don't know her real back story from when she was your young and only refer to her as an illness.
Even if she has bpd, it doesn't mean everything she does is because of it. She's entitled to be emotional at times and be annoyed at things.
There's a lot of blame going to your wife for the breakdown of your marriage, and no admission of fault on your side.
For someone that's done everything to help her, you dont seem to have any understanding of someone with bpd.
Just because she has some of the 9 traits required doesn't make an diagnosis, and half the population would show alot of these traits in there personality.
Maybe try and understand what triggers these outbursts from her. I feel for your wife as she clearly needs help from someone who understands her way of thinking
Thanks for your reply
I certainly appreciate that all people have moods and moments including me.
I am also very far from perfect as a person and no doubt I have done things in the relationship that would cause her annoyance. The type of things that would be the cause of an everyday fight between couples.
I fully accept my contribution to the relationship including my steps to follow the speed the relationship developed and the plans we put in place for our future.
Unfortunately many things were hidden from my view despite having what I thought was an open dialogue to each other’s lives. We only ever know the things about other people that they are prepared to share or that we find out by accident. It takes time together to learn about the other person and we both failed each other with allowing that time.
Ive typed to this form because I have exhausted my capacity toI hold her hand further... I have been there in every way shape and form possible to offer her love, support & guidance. I’ve listened to her and taken on board what she has said.
Its not a descision I’ve taken on lightly and I truly feel I had no other choice.
You simply can’t stay in an environment where children are labelled with expletives...
Welcome to the forum. This forum is for everyone who needs a place to vent their feelings, ask for helpful suggestions and understand this is a safe place to be. Because it is safe we can, within the bounds of courtesy, talk about anything that troubles us.
I have little of knowledge of BPD other than it is a difficult illness to live with, both for the unwell person and family members. I believe at one time it was considered nothing could be done for those unfortunate enough to have this illness. However the world of psychology has moved on with real hope for managing this illness. Like all illnesses, both psychological and physical, the person must want to get well. I suspect it's very hard for someone with BPD to change and I say that with compassion, not judgement.
It is sad to feel you have made no difference to your wife's life and that she is now facing abandonment again. No, not taking shots. Please believe me when I say this. I am thinking this is how she must feel. I take your point about setting up scenarios and solutions that fail which prove to your wife that she is a failure. That must be so devastating for her no matter how she tries to hide it.
I have no idea where you live, I am in Brisbane. I believe there are groups set up for people with BPD. An acquaintance of mine went into hospital for three weeks to complete a specific workshop/training program to help manage her BPD. This friend acknowledged she could be unkind which is a huge step forward and I understand this workshop has been beneficial. It's the second time she attended. Is there anything of this sort near you? Perhaps the psychiatrist your wife saw could help here.
I do not believe either you or your wife is to 'blame' for the difficulties you have been having. I have just come home from a carers meeting where those who attend have a spouse with dementia or Alzheimers. This group meets to support each other, have somewhere to meet every month and listen to speakers on topics related to their lives. I am there as a support person not a carer. They do an incredible job in all sorts of circumstances.
Can you talk to the same psychiatrist as your wife and work out ways to help her without becoming wrecked. Or the psych could refer you elsewhere. Your words show you are desperately unhappy with your life and how disappointed you have become and I am sorry this has happened to you. Perhaps you can find a way to help your wife as I have suggested above.
Thankyou Mary for taking the time to read and to provide your thoughts and ideas.
We do have a well established centre locally that has trained staff that deal directly with BPD and DBT - its only 10 minutes away however she has refused to attend. They run individual and group sessions over a 12 month program. Initially her objection was about cost but when I removed that obstacle she still did not wish to try.
But things seldom stay the same for very long - yesterday we had arranged for Agents to come through the house to quote for sale - 1 each. Not long after her Agent had been through I asked her if separation was the only path that she saw we had available. I asked her whether she wanted to explore options that did not include us parting. It was said in a calm fashion with lots of reassuring words and no pressure to make an immediate decision. Whether the timing was good or not I'm not sure but we were about to make a decision affecting the rest our lives.
Within moments her mood shifted to complete anger (& in part may have been self defensive). I didn't want to escalate things further so I said Id be happy to talk calmly later if and when she felt she could and left the room.
A few hours later she came to me in a deep state of emotional tears. She apologised for always being so angry, that she didn't know why she does what she does and that she didn't want to lose me. It was clear from her state of being that this was no time to talk about it further. I got tissues, a drink, held her and just let her cry it out.
Ever since our wedding day I have researched and researched to understand what was going on. I've encouraged her to participate in DBT programs, to seek any other available help, to use books and forums and to lean on those that love her for help.
Even with where we are now I'm not asking a lot of her to work forward together - just attend the local DBT group and don't use expletives/language when referring to children - just to begin the process of working on herself so there are taking steps forward.
Its a difficult balance between the interests of blended family stepchildren, her mental health and my own mental health - without the latter I cant help the former. Unfortunately my child is also an issue in all of this - that's become clear in her words when lashing out - which in part is why I feel I have been cornered. I have a responsibility to my child to provide a safe environment whether I am a 2 or 14 day dad.
I'll play devil's advocate by pointing out how I'd see that situation from a 3rd persons perspective
You've told your wife who has fear of abandonment issues already that your separating from her (but then continue to live there)
She then does what you want by beginning to organise the sale of the house through a real estate agent
(This alone would be stressful for a person, let alone someone that's doing it because there husband is leaving them)
She then goes through the process of having them do a tour of the house for valuation etc
For them too leave and you say to her, is this the only way forward and should we talk about options for staying together etc
If I'm honest I'm not surprised she blew up, I wouldn't be surprised if any person that would go through that to have the person who just said there leaving them turn around and question them for doing what they said was the only option.
It would undoubtedly be confusing and frustrating for her.
You can throw around words like dbt, cbt all you like but that doesn't mean anything to someone with borderline, especially since they are clearly struggling
Thankyou for the response and your views as a devils advocate.
The difficulty with putting your life on any forum is all the limited and missing info and somewhat disjointed picture it creates... the words no matter how carefully chosen can be interpreted differently by different people.
Long before any talk of separating came into the picture and before any labels appeared, avenues of everyday personal support were there. The simple stuff - conversation, exploration, holding hands, reassurance, listening, time together... as time went on and the traits became more pronounced then other options were discussed between us.
As I said in my previous post about what happened yesterday, I know the timing probably wasn’t great to ask that question and the reaction was to be expected... but time was also running out - it was probably getting to be the last throw of the dice to try and look at what alternatives could be considered.
As the person on the receiving end of unpredictability who has a younger child who can get caught in the firing line, it becomes very difficult to think quick, keep your balance, remain calm while trying to be supportive to all concerned and to minimise the impacts. The reality is as a parent your role includes the health and welfare of your children... going to get a drink of water as a child shouldn’t involve walking on eggshells... some may disagree.
Separating has only come because of all I’ve typed in my messages above and much more... it’s not a descision made lightly and a person has to be pushed around a lot to get there... it’s also not what I wanted from it all - I love her and want to help... she says she loves me but also flatly refuses any help on any level - professional, couple, personal or otherwise... so the unpredictability cycle continues affecting all around.
If I could find the answer to that then that would be gold!