A Letter To Non-BPD’s With a BPD in Their Life…

Dear Non-BPD,

We know how difficult it is to have us in your life.  We know how hard it is to hear us in our depths of despair.  We know how we may come across as manipulative, controlling, unwilling to change, attention-seeking, even intolerable.  We know.  But step back for a moment, really look at us.  Inside, you will find the most compassionate, empathetic, kind, giving people you will meet.  Yes, you are tired of the chaos– as tired as you are, we are drained, worn down.  Yes, you feel trapped by the relationship, as trapped as you feel we are birds banging our heads against the cage wanting to fly.  I implore you, do not tell us we do nothing to improve, we have been seeking help most of our lives, we have been fighting to get “normal” forever.  We have been actually getting up every morning, this in itself is comparable to climbing Mount Everest, this is “doing something.”  We are not about control, manipulation, lies, we are about fear.  We love you, possibly more than most people can feel love and are in sheer terror of losing you, this is the control you speak of.  Don’t turn your back on us (unless you are in danger of your life, but most BPD’s I have met hurt only themselves).  For when you turn your back on us, you have reinforced the idea that we are unworthy, hopeless, and cannot make it in this world.  In my experience, most of the conflicts that arise with BPD’s and Non-BPD’s is miscomunication.  Be clear about what you mean, extremely clear, because what you say is perceived by us as something different.  Be reassuring. Don’t say, “I can’t take this right now,” simply start the sentence differently… “You have every right to feel the way you do, but can we talk later. I will call you back at such and such a time.”  Be validating.  Don’t ignore a text or a phone call, we have been ignored all our lives and feel invisible.  Don’t tell others that we are “crazy.”  We are a lot healthier than most people walking around ignoring their feelings, we are learning how to cope.  Don’t tell us we are being overly dramatic, overly sensitive, we are not dramatic, our feelings are real and yes, we are overly senstitive, but is that such a bad thing?  I am proud to say that I am sensitive, I am proud to say that when I love, I love with all my soul, I am proud to say that I do understand you, but can you even try to understand me?  I am not here preaching about how BPD’s should be catered to.  As an analogy: if we had cancer, would you say “I’m tired of taking you for your treatments, fight this on your own?”  For some, BPD is as terminal as cancer.  As long as they are in treatment and learning to cope, be there because one day that bird that is banging their head against the cage will fly free and you will miss the opportunity to fly with them…

Fia Marie


91 Responses

  1. Beautiful. I will send to all the people I love.

  2. Well said. Thank you for sharing and reminding all of us that we are not alone. I’m going to have my husband read this, he’s wonderful but I think he needs to know that he isn’t alone (having a Borderline wife) either.

  3. I absolutely loved this! Thank you!

  4. This brought tears to my eyes… it says everything that is inside of me that I am unable to say to those I love… thank you beyond words for sharing this xx

  5. Wow! Just wow!

  6. I agree with you. I loved reading what you have written. I have a different opinion though… I think being in love with another is about giving and not expecting… so asking the other to be supportive is laying down a condition to love. The man in my life doesn’t know about BPD… and he thinks I am just making this up. But that’s okay… I believe I have a struggle that is tough. And I don’t ever intend to give up. I have those bad days too. I pray. I cry. I have come to believe that this too shall pass.

  7. Thank you so much for explaining this better than I ever could, I hoping my fiancee will check it out before things become too hard for us to handle.

  8. Wow this post is amazing ! Fia your fantastic ! Please write more !! I’d like to know if you have r are going to be writing an e-book ? On BPD ? Thank u

  9. i wish my best friend would read this. she has been scolding me lately for the pain i feel and it just makes me hurt more. im glad someone out there understands. thankyou for your letter. maybe she will read it when i send it to her.

    • Do not let anyone “scold” you for the pain you feel. You have every right and she cannot understand. Send her the letter. If she does not validate your pain and suffering let her be for awhile, for it will only escalate your pain.

  10. Unfortunately having my fiancee read this did not have the affect I was hoping for. He still feels I blame everything on him and how hard my issue is on him. I understand, but if he loves me he needs to learn to accept me….all of me. Good and bad.

    • I’m sorry it didn’t go so well 😦

      • I have just ended a relationship with a woman with BPD.

        “I am proud to say that I do understand you, but can you even try to understand me?”

        How many times have I heard those exact words. You have a lot of work to do.

        So do I.

  11. I read this and it definitely helped me understand a bpd’s feelings I’m a non-bpd who’s had a bpd friend for several years. Unfortunately, I recently broke up that friendship. It just got too taxing and too hard for me to handle. It felt like the most toxic relationship I’ve ever had in my life and was emotionally tearing me down. Will you please explain to me why when I would ask for space or set boundaries, these requests were ignored?

    • Although it can be very helpful to be there for your friend, you have to also think about and take care of YOURSELF. I don’t blame you for breaking up the relationship, especially if it wasn’t a healthy relationship for you to be in.

      People with BPD have a fear of abandonment, so you asking for space may have seemed to your friend like you were abandoning them in a way.

      If you’d like to talk privately about this, or have any other questions, you can email me at contact@ontheborderline.org and I’ll be happy to talk to you 🙂

    • there’s no such thing as boundaries with a BPD. All they care about is their own fears. They take no accountablilty. Everything is always about them. Just like Fia Marie’s letter. They are eternal victims.

      Life is hard. Everyone has hurts and fears. BPS’s don’t have accountability because they are mentally ill? No thanks, I don’t buy it!!!!!!!

  12. Well, all I can say is from my own experience I do the same thing. I am scared of losing that friend. So, i cling to them. They become my world and without them I feel like nothing. Also, as a a child I was never taught boundaries. It is a toxic relationship I agree and sometimes people will have to walk away, but I hope your friend is learning, becasue the more people walk away the more reclusive I become. But, thank you for being interested and I hope I answered clearly. You did what you felt you had to do and that is ok. I do however hope your friend is getting help.

  13. Because the fear of abandonment clogs our understanding…is like trying to rationalize and make somebody understand when they just being hit by a car.

  14. To be honest, I don’t care how you feel, what you feel. BPD,s have destroyed aspects of my life I can’t get back, they have left me with post traumatic stress, and the reasoning is, I can’t help it. It is one thing to have the thought it is totally another to take the action. I have no sympathy for the the lot of you. Why do I need to worry and fret about how you feel when you have no feeling for how I might. I run from from a BPD, and don’t look back.

    • Actually, a lot of us DO care about how others in our lives feel. Please don’t judge EVERYONE who has BPD based on how a couple people have treated you.

      And my question for you is– if you don’t care, then why are you reading this blog?

    • damaged, I know kind of how you feel. My wife has destroyed a lot of who I am. I bounce back to anger sometimes, but I am still trying to learn and understand. She left six months ago and could care less about me, but I think enough of her to keep trying despite what everyone tells me. I’m not saying that her actions are “right” but why should I quit on her like everyone else has? Every person is different and sometimes hope , understanding and try are the only things we have left.

  15. Well, I think you should do what you feel, however as Lauren said, you cannot judge all those with BPD based on some… just my opinion

  16. Lauren, I am here trying to figure out why someone would do such atrociously harmful things to another person, a person who was NOTHING but good and supportive, and caring. My life was literally destroyed as I knew it 8 yrs ago, as I was trying to pick up the pieces of that, I was again blindsided by the willful, underhanded snaeky ACTIONS of another BPD, leaving me with PTSD, all I hear from BPD is not “i’m sorry” its “I can’t help it” ! My response is- how am I supposed to show anyone empathy when they have NONE for me or mine? BPD’s make their bed they just don’t want to lie in it. I am sure their fear of abandonment is justified, nobody in their right mind sticks around to accept the damage they do. Like I said it is one thing to have the thought it is completly another to take the action. When they have those thoughts and they know the damage that follows, WHY do they take the action? it is not their thought that does the damage, it is the ACTION!!! Just don’t DO it!

    • Sometimes, people with BPD don’t know the right way to cope, so they do the wrong thing. They don’t intentionally try to hurt the people around them, but it happens. I understand though, and you have to do what’s best for YOU; if you’re in a bad place with someone, whether they have BPD or not, you need to do what’s right for you, and it sounds like you did.

  17. Fiamaria, show me a BPD that isn’t destructive to those around them, and I will no longer judge them all the same. Fair enough? :o)

  18. Yes, I am no destructive to anyone but myself….my mother was destructive to me but I can say I forgive her, I am not angry, you have alot of anger and I’m sure it’s justified but I do hope you’re getting help. My question to you would be why are you attracted to people who hurt you? Also, many borderlines I know including myself are acting in bpd’s. They hurt noone only cry and hurt themselves. And also, even if you dont want to believe it they cannot help it but they should be getting help. If they are not, why would you stick around? I wish you peace and hope you come to terms with the fact that all people even abusive ones dont act out for absolutely no reason, but it must be you to walk away…or like with my mom, make peace. Her and I are now close I am happy to say.

  19. Yes I have been in therapy since the first one. As for why I am attracted, I’m not. Seems they are attracted to me by mannerisms, and other outward indicators. BPDs are highly manipulative and when they seek to do harm, they pick easy targets– that’s me. Apparantly I am a beacon(yay, not). Which has left me with a fear of people and it takes forever for me to trust.and that really sucks. My kids are scarred forever because of the affects on them. Do you see this snowball? Yes my anger is justified.in an effort to purge my anger, I want to understand WHY, and all I hear is essentially because of their fears, there was no reason for their anger and hatred to be directed at ME, and taken out in sneaky underhanded, malicious ways. I understand about people having difficulty dealing with things, what I totally don’t understand is why all the destruction.

    • Ok, let me just tell you that we are not “highly manipulative;” like I said before, sometimes we just don’t know how to cope, so we do things that might hurt someone close to us– but we don’t do that on purpose.

    • Dear Damaged,

      I understand your hurt and sense of betrayal. I too am a “non” and I was married to a man who displayed every symptom of BPD and then some. You loved someone who hurt you deeply, I’ve been there. I have read about the condition and tried to understand what happened. The abuse that he subjected me to could only be described as horrific, I was so terrified of him (he did all sorts of terrible things and made threats to do more, etc.) that it took me a LONG time to escape the hell that he put me in. Events that have occurred since the divorce have lead me to notice APD symptoms as well, he certainly displays no sign of a conscience, so I feel that he was not *just* suffering from BPD as I originally thought.

      It is possible that your experiences are with people who have multiple mental illness, as my ex husband clearly had (his delusions, seemingly split in personalities, etc. were not simple issues but he refuses to get an official diagnosis or treatment, the only diagnosis that I could get was from a psychiatrist that *I* was seeing in order to deal with the abuse and he didn’t get the full picture of how bad off my ex husband really was because I was too ashamed to tell of all I experienced at the time.)

      I suffered from severe depression while living under his rule (he was highly controlling, manipulative, and aggressive when he wanted something) as well as a PTSD diagnosis a few years into the marriage. My ex husband took everything from me, I lost everything. I am starting from ground level on both a personal and a financial perspective.

      I was not attracted to an abusive person, he lied to me about who he was. An abuser will tell you whatever he/she thinks you want to hear and they will become the person that you admire most. But they can only pretend for a limited period of time. The abuse did not show, in my relationship, until we were engaged and living together and then his facade fell. I am very cautious about getting into another relationship now because I know the damage that one human being can do to another and I cannot endure that again. There are often red flags that you don’t notice when you are naive to abusers but if you learn from the abusive relationship, you can watch for these red flags in the future and hopefully avoid another abusive relationship. I know that some people can be very manipulative and deceptive and that makes me nervous as well. Abusers come from all walks of life and many different mental states.

      I have spent a lot of time recovering and trying to make something of the torture that I endured. I participate in online support groups for “non-BPDs”. If you would like to join one of these online groups, feel free to contact me, they could offer you some support. I wish you the best in your healing.

  20. Yes, BPDs are highly manipulative when on a mission. I could give you at least a full legal length paper FULL of the many ways I myself have experienced that. Feigned frienships, working their way into my home, my job, my church, my children, my friends, all solely in order to do me harm. How about telling lie after lie to a boss to get fired, or my parents to destroy that relationship, all(there is way more than mentioned here) while professing to be my friend, in both cases for years!. The divide and conquer, counting on noone comparing notes. Check out the book “walking on eggshells_ chapters 8 and 11 specifically.

    • Ok, I was diagnosed with BPD, and I completely disagree with you about us being “highly manipulative!” And you shouldn’t trust everything that you read. Try learning about BPD from people who actually have it– I think that’s one of the best sources.

  21. Are you kidding me? Lol whatever, I guess if it doesn’t agree with your idealogy of yourself, it isn’t accurate? And the book(written by a psychologist) is highly and widely recommended to those that deal with BPDs or have been a victim of them and their fixations, try going to some of the sites for these people. The stories are heartbreaking about the effects on those surrounding the BPD, from co-workers to family,friends, neighbors etc.

    • No, I’m not kidding you, actually. And by the way, I am in remission, so I don’t experience the symptoms of BPD anymore. It’s all in perspective now, and I firmly stand behind what I’m saying about this.

      Who cares if it was written by a psychologist? Have they ever experienced BPD? Do they know what it feels like? I don’t think so.

      • “Do they know what it feels like? I don’t think so.”

        There it is again. For someone in remission those words sound very famliar to me.

    • They are indeed manipulative. They make up horrible lies to gain sympathy. Or worse, my BPD would send me emails that she wanted to hurt herslef just so I would call her back after asking for time and space to cool down. It’s the grosses kind of manipulation and when one uses this, said person deserves to be left alone and abonded.
      BPD’s need to learn that they aren’t the center of the universe..grow up and start taking accountabilty for your life and actions!!! The BPD diagnosis gives a perso carte blanche to be a total a**hole.

  22. How do you know you are in “remission” I guess another borderline told you? Or is your shrink borderline? If not what makes u think they know what they are talking about(aside from telling u what u want hear). None of you can handle being confronted with anything that doesn’t agree with your sympathy for yourself. Its ALLL about u. And to hell with those you do harm to, they had it comin’ right? NOT! Easily dismissed, oh well. I am all for bpds getting help. There is no cure! Personality disorders are permanent all u can hope to do is manage it. Remission is a misleading term. If u are able to manage it good for u and even better for those around you.but rest assured those in your life are walking on eggshells for WHEN you choose to lash out again. I stand FIRMLY behind what I say.

    • Right, there is no cure, but you can get your symptoms under control, like I have.

    • listen here. You have no idea how some one like us lives. its easy for u to say the hell with it u don’t live it. we feel unworthy and pain like that everyday, were emotionally wreck, u only seen the beginning stages of it, or actually what u may of said to her would of trigger something that would make her react the way she did. we cant breath were choked up and our pain is more intensified then someone normal. we think of things longer were upset about them longer cause one problem and the solutions to solve that problem because another after another we cant solve it we get upset then u give us another reason to be upset on top of what we were already upset about cause it wasn’t resolved. so on and so on. So u see negative, words, tone, not caring, not loving, leaving us the most fearful things for us is abandonment so to feel someone else is giving up leaving me we get worse. we know its our faults i take the lame for everything, but im bagging for help i want to get better i have to live with guilt everyday and i been living a life of depression since i was 11 so imagine maybe some day that will be your child feeling she never good enough feeling like a failure,, You have children right?? well What if one or both went missing one day or died how would u feel the pain you would have would be uncontrollable.and how u going to comfort her with tough love u did it to yourself live with it. …Its a disease. just like cancer people die from this. no one is judging u on what u believe if u don’t agree u don’t but one day karma will come back , and maybe when its your time to go you’ll be alone to when u die..

  23. Sad to see such horrific stigma still surrounding mental illness, based on a few bad experiences and one or two crap books.

    I’m sure the people in my life, and those of others I know with this diagnosis, would be quite happy to discuss the fact that I’m not especially difficult to live with. I’ve been in a relationship for almost seven years and my two best friends from school are still my two best friends; I’m not exactly sure how this would be achievable if I were constantly destructive or manipulative towards others.

    But why take my word for it – your reading the works of eminent psychologists trumps all, of course. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss this with my partner and friends, however – and if you want to educate yourself on how the majority of BPD diagnosees actually are, read the multitude if blogs out there. I think you’ll be surprised by how normal most if our contact with others is. If you want to understand an alternative perspective, that is… *coughs*

  24. Under control, good for u.and. Especially those around you, I pray for them it lasts….

  25. Don’t feed the troll people 🙂

    Love you all

    ❤ x

  26. This is getting insulting, I suggest if you don’t want to understnad than by all means read the books you choose, perhaps you are attracted to abusive people, BPD or not? Also, the only person being abusive here is you, so please refrain. Lauren is in remission, you are not a doctor and we will pray for YOU.

  27. No, pray for them because even if you have yourself under control THEY are still left wondering when/if their BPD is gonna fall off the wagon, hence the walking on eggshells part.

    Pandora(good name, it brings about the literary pandoras box, which speaks volumes) how many other people besides those 3 have u hurt?

    • Actually, no, they’re not. You don’t know any of us, do you? No, you don’t. So please stop judging all of us. We’re all trying to talk to you calmly about this, and there you go abusing US. I’m done discussing this with you. If you don’t want to learn about BPD, then please stop visiting our blog. Thank you.

    • None, except in the same circumstances in which everyone hurts others. It happens from time to time in all human relationships. How many people have you hurt? None? If that is your claim, you lie.

      Well-played spotting the connotations re: Pandora’s box. What you’ve forgotten, though, is that after all the insidiousness and horror was expunged, hope sprung forth from the box 🙂 That is why it’s my chosen pseudonym 🙂

      You have yet to provide one shred of credible evidence to underline the credit your outdated and unsupported assertions. When you put a number of well-regarded, longitudinal and large-sampled research reports here for our delectation that suggest with strong statistical significance that individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are inherently destructive and manipulative, then maybe your claims would warrant a second or two of attention. Until then, your tunnel vision in this issue renders your arguments utterly self-invalidating.

      • And to that end, I too am no longer engaging in this discussion. Damaged, I sincerely hope that you are able to work through your anger issues; it’s sad to see the self-destruction they are inevitably causing you.

        My best wishes to you.

  28. I have not been abusive merely explaining where I come from, but if you want to DISMISS any validity to what I have gone through at the hands of a BPD ANYTHING I say has no merit. And I wasn’t being shitty by saying I pray that is the case for lauren,I was honestly sincere, it benefits her as well. And you all are very short sighted about the horrible devastating path that your fixations leave behind.

    • All these ramblings are really very sad. A human was hurt by another human. The hurt person feels like they are entitled to lash out on every other human they can find. As a matter of fact – this hurt person has actively searched for and found individuals that may have similarities to this person who did her so wrong. I hope this horrible person wasn’t of any particular race or else people would be calling you a racist who stereotypes. No one here discounts what feelings another person wishes to express. This is supposed to be an open forum to bring people together and maybe allow those interested in BPD an inside look. It’s ironic that you are so angry, suffering with PTSD and lashing out with “misplaced anger/rage”, your opinions are very black and white with no gray. It also appears that you may have some instability in your relationships.

      Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?

    • The in remission BPD’s still don’t take accountabilty. The are the eternal victims, by choice and by demanding that nons just deal with it. The BPD in my life has turned so many seemingly happy / healthy people into raging lunatics. BPD’s are the epitome of selfishness.

  29. Insidiousness and horror huh? ‘Nuf said.

  30. Ohhhhhh WoW, now THIS IS quite a surprise for me, I must say !!! It’s definitely the FIRST TIME I came to read, that people with BPD are stereotyped with “being manipulative”, really ! And when I come to think deeply about it (I can do it very quickly ) – I can’t think of any NEGATIVE manipulation with BPD IN GENERAL, but on the contrary !!!
    Like you wrote – IF there are “heavy manipulators”, who also suffer from BPD – they’re DEFINITELY the MINORITY !
    I’m almost certain, that this term is CONFUSED with the pathological “abandonment anxiety”, which TAKES OVER, when a real or virtual experience of abandonment is being experienced by the BPD person ! Then he’ll AUTOMATICALLY DO WHATEVER IT TAKES (WITH ALMOST NO BOUNDARIES AT ALL !!!) TO AVOID THIS EXPERIENCE !!! And Yes- PERHAPS some of the UNCONTROLLED activities WILL INCLUDE certain manipulative acts, BUT IN SUCH EXTREME, PAINFUL, UNCONTROLLED SITUATION – THE MANIPULATION IS NEVER BEING DONE INTENTIONALLY !!!!
    And this is A FACT, which ONLY people, who suffer & are diagnosed with ANY sub-kind of BPD KNOW & FEEL !!!!! A STRANGER WILL NEVER EVER EVEN BEGIN TO BE ABLE TO GRASP & EMPATHIZE WITH IT !

  31. Ok peace and love to you….

  32. Fiamaria, you are THE ONLY ONE who has admitted to not wanting and specifically taking actions to avoid, hurting others- I can accept that(which may not matter u but does me). The rest are finding excuses to get pissed. Who out there wants to acknowledge a borderline fixation?

    • I no longer make excuses for my behaviors. I refuse to become the label put on me. I surround myself with only those who respect and love me, I give the same in return.

      Whether you are mentally ill or not, every person on this earth makes excuses at some point or another. Stop dumping your anger on those you can just run from. It’s easy to hide behind a monitor. The hard part is dealing with real, live people.

  33. Charlene, would LOVE to get in touch. How can I do that?

  34. Look lets leave it as agreeing to disagree, but I do think you have been terribly hurt and perhaps whoever hurt you did suffer from more than one mental illness, it could be? Whatever it is, I talk to a lot of people on here and I can promise you, they all hurt themselves rather than others. I’ve never even thought about hurting someone else. However, there are BPD’s that are abusive ok I do not disagree, it just seems you’ve been through so much trauma and I find it hard to believe he/she was only BPD? Would you even consider that? Of course I am not a doctor.

  35. Jodi, I am not hiding and I am not runnig, I have taken the personal attacks, and no I am not BPD. And yes I am in therapy. I came here to find the defuser for my anger and yes I am angry, I was not lashing out-as was wrongly interpreted- just expressing MY expriences with it. And yes they probably did have other issues as well, just like ya’ll do. With the xception of fia, each one of you has jumped my ass for it.

  36. ok one last thing I feel I need to help, google AJ Mahari, she writes about NON BPD’s and is a recovered BPD coach. I think you might relate and learn even more and maybe she can help? She charges a small fee to coach you, I really think you need to find peace..:) Best to you…

  37. Dear Damaged,

    The law of the universe is that we attract what we are.

    You claimed you were a beacon? I have to wonder why that is?

    And, after reading everything you wrote above and How you went about expressing your feelings, I wonder if you have ever considered that you are possibly suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder yourself?

    The anger and blame are there for you – and yet I can see in small bits and pieces that’s not your real (aka primary) emotion. Your real (primary) emotion is sadness that you are taken by people in your life and then abandoned (which leads to your secondary emotion anger).

    There’s no other reason why you Would be reading a blog by those who have BPD unless you were looking for some understanding to help you with your fears and sadness or possibly relate to many of the postings.

    Also, you seem completely dysregulated – seeing only your side of your experience – you have a very inward/ victim mentality driven argument – and it’s all black and white to you. It seems that all those with BPD were able to at least try to come to you to help, see all sides of the experience and yet you rebuke them and it’s attack attack attack.

    Walking on Eggshells is one book. And, if you go to TARA and read what Valerie Porr has to say about that book you will find that just because it was published it does not make everything stated by that psychologist true. Valerie Porr is the foremost expert on helping family and friends of those with BPD and she does not support the book.

    I would be happy to recommend other books to you that might help you more. In fact, I highly recommend THE HIGH CONFLICT COUPLE – by Fruzzetti. It is much more current and he has much more expertise in dealing with family/ friend dynamics of BPD’s and non BPD’s. In much the same way that an alcoholic’s partner, after feeling their lives have been ruined by the alcoholic, Fruzzetti has both people in the relationship look at their role. You chose to be in those relationships. I ask you to look at your part in all of it.

    Anyway, I think that’s enough to get you started on your own healing process. Keep up with your therapist and find a forum where you feel supported and can support instead of one that clearly upsets you.

    This wasn’t created as a space to fight about our differences but rather a peaceful spot to connect and help each other. I hope you find such a spot for yourself.

    Blessings to you.

  38. Fia- thank you, I will do that.
    David- haven’t you lost enough?
    Charlene- point me in the right direction
    Lauren- I can see your struugle- my best to you
    Pandora- lol not gonna bother.

  39. B.- abandonment is not my issue (good riddance), damage by those who had been in my life is. But you see, I am not looking to see how I can live my life WITH a BPD, its how do I recover from the damage done. And yes, I do attract, and definately do not seek, such forces in my life. Many of the personality disorders have overlapping symptoms, and I am PTSD, not BPD.

  40. Hi Damaged
    I have read a lot of this discussion and I am truly shocked by how painful your life seems to have been with these partners who had BPD.
    I do find this topic really difficult as I have been diagnosed with PTSD, BPD and Cyclothymia for 11 years now and have for the last 8 years co-run therapy groups for people with BPD for my MH trust and have never met a single person with BPD who sets out to hurt their partner.
    As others have said, the vast majority of people with BPD will act-in and hurt themselves far far more than they ever try to hurt other people.

    Having said that, I also believe it could well be hell to be the loved one of someone with BPD, especially when they are in teh chaotic years. I think the focus of many people with BPD, when they are in emotional distress, is on ending that distress by whatever means they know – this will often involve self harm and other actions which the partner may find damned hard to understand, but the intention of the person with BPD is not to hurt or manipulate their partner – it is about ending the excruciating pain.
    In order to manipulate someone, there must be an intent to do so – I believe this is more often than not missing.
    But I can see how from the outside it may seem or feel like the person with BPD is trying to manipulate them.

    I remember early on in my journey, going to see my GP in serius distress and being really upset about something my psychologist had said to me – she took it on herself to phone the psychologist and go into battle for me. I had not asked her to and had no idea she had done so, but I was accused of manipulating her into doing this.

    My only intention was to seek comfort from the pain……

    It is a hard one as you have clearly been damaged by these people in your life. But was it the BPD that made them hurt you or were they people who would hurt you anyway?

    Does it follow that everyone who has BPD will hurt and manipulate the people that care for them?

    I have never been in a relationship – partly due to my traumatic past, but also because I thought it unfair to try and be with someone else when I couldn’t be with myself.
    I know many others who have done the same and many who are in happy settled relationships – so we can’t all be bad can we?

  41. Hi there. I grew up with a stepmother who was BPD and who harmed others as a way to harm herself. She did everything she could to destroy me. I think the conflict that damaged is having here is he was involved with BPD’s like my stepmother and those types of BPDs rarely seek help or treatment because they think there is nothing wrong with them – it’s all the target person’s fault. You all obviously self harm and have sought out treatment for your issues. You are only coming into contact with people like yourselves. The BPDs like my stepmom are very manipulative and scheming. Yes, they do it to avoid abandonment but that isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m sure my stepmom has some other issues besides BPD, I’ve searched and searched and searched for answers and she seems to have a few of the symptoms of paranoid personality disorder too. She picks a target to blame and project all her faults on. When I was growing up, I was her target because I reminded her of my mom and she was worried my dad would abandon her to go back to my mom. To her, this was a realistic worry for her because if she would not have stalked him and constantly harassed my mother, my mom would have tried to work things out with my dad (he met my stepmom at work and had an affair with her). But by the time he married my stepmom, even if my dad would have wanted to go back to my mom there was no way my mom would agree so it wasn’t really a threat. After the divorce, he eventually gave up trying to date anyone but her because she made sure it didn’t happen. Every woman he befriended, my stepmom would find out about and go about intimidating them. Unfortunately, by that time he already had custody of me and my little sister. She played the wonderful, loving stepmother in front of him and the second he left the room she would be whispering threats and insults designed to destroy my self esteem. By the time I was 17, she poisoned me and when that didn’t work she chased me down and tried to run me over with her car. I left home after that but she continued to harass me every time my dad and she would have an argument. My dad would try to leave her when she would do something drastic and in her mind, it was all my fault so when he let her back into the house she doubled her insidious efforts to punish me for being me. I eventually had to get a restraining order against her and my own children grew up not knowing their grandfather even though I was incredibly close to him before my stepmom moved in (another reason she was so threatened by me). The reason I’m sharing this with you all is so you can understand people like damaged who have their “stereotypes” and their anger and are demanding answers. He’s not exaggerating and neither are you. You all just have different experiences of BPD. You have tried to get help which automatically means you have a lot less severe form of BPD than some people. There are some people with BPD who don’t believe they have it at all and refuse any type of treatment, like my stepmom. There REALLY are some people out there with BPD who fit the profile (and then some) for the walking on eggshells book. Believe it. A big part of BPD is denial so when you say that you are in “remission” or you don’t struggle with your symptoms anymore, it’s hard for us non-bpd’s to believe you. Especially those of us who have dealt with and been greatly harmed by your most severe counterparts.

    Damaged, you need to find the light again. There is a lot of life left for you to live and by refusing to forgive and let go of your anger, you are allowing the people who harmed you continue to harm you. There is always something to be grateful for. If you still have your kids in your life, that is a big plus. It means you’ll also be able to watch your grandkids grow up. unlike my father. Listen, I know it’s hard but happiness is a choice. You are entitled to your anger for a time but at some point you must grieve over what you lost and move on or you will have allowed those people to steal your entire life away from you instead of just 8 years. Best of luck to you and to everyone.

    Love Catherine

  42. […] A Letter To Non-BPD’s With a BPD in Their Life… « On The Borderline's Blog (tags: bpd non-bpd letter) […]

  43. Wow, quite a blog. And one serious emotional adventure when read in an extended release mouthful.

    I would like to believe – as how do any of us really know anyway – that I am a NON.

    I am fortunately involved with a wonderful man, who Unfortunately for the both of us was previously involved with an undiagnosed, virulently denying, highly manipulative, downright nasty paranoid BPD female. Three children are the innocent victims of this ‘ere drama.

    So, Damaged…ahoy bro, I’ve seen some radical and apparently heartless destruction too, and actually your initial letter felt quite cathartic, although your anger is hectic, bro… you need to learn what makes you laugh again, find the innocent laughter in your life…the sparkle in each day, please…sELF healing is the way to succeed and beat the damage.

    For the BPDs, hmmm…well, I have a pretty dramatic side to me, and I can certainly thank this BPD female for pulling me indirectly into line. For me, I’m not convinced about this “unable to control myself” excuse…in my understanding of my world this is not an excuse at all. It’s laziness of the spirit.

    We have essentially two aspects of ourselves to feed…the one made and thriving through love, the other through fear. Now, which one do you feed? Because, years from now…that’s the momma that’s gonna bite yer ass!

    I would rather live and love. I was getting sucked into the “game”, at least feeling depression and listlessness from the constant stupid dramas, and yoyo emotional washed coming through day for day, getting involved in some raging adrenalin spikes, etc…

    This BPD mother is relentless, and has now started using her children as manipulation to try and create tensions, spread rumours, generally be a fly in the ointment of a new relationship.

    Fortunately my love and I are friends before anything, and so we will find a harmony through all this…but unfortunately it may not be the way we would have liked this to be… I have decided that it is not fair on the children particularly, and therefore have chosen not to live with him.

    Or make a habit of seeing the children for now.

    I know this BPD won’t stop, the kids are young and they don’t need to be exposed to this unnecessarily. The poor mites have to live with their mother most of the time.

    Yet, when left to our own devices, the three of them, myself and my love have had the most wonder-filled adventures, enjoying laughter and freedom of spirit. It’s just too much brightness for the BPD to deal with – she has to shut it down.

    My experience with BPDs has been tragic…the only plus being I watch myself closely for any chance traits, because whatever BPD is, it can certainly have despicable consequences, and I don’t want to cause that much pain to other people, either conscious or (God forbid) unconsciously. Urgh…

    It certainly does seem that for a non-diagnosed and active BPD (I qualify), a lose lose situation seems the best outcome. How tragic is that?

    Do you choose to live in love… or to live by carrying out evil?

    And all because the lady has BPD.

    Good luck to all of us, I pray our race called humanity can survive the onslaught of this self inflicted pain.

  44. I have been married to a BPD woman for 2 years now…thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Thankfully God has carried me through thus far when I wanted to give up. Keep praying and keep loving.

  45. I think this is a beautiful letter, but I definitely can also see why it is received with either admiration or disdain.

    I have had ‘BPD’ (rather than saying I’m a BPD) for a very long time before I was diagnosed. Once I was diagnosed, my whole life began to fall in place. There are still many things that must be accounted for, but ever past misdeed was now comprehendable.

    Living with a person who has BPD is not easy. Living with anyone who is suffering from a mental illness, is not easy. All the people who justify damning people who have BPD simply are those who cannot comprehend what goes on in the head or in the life of a person who has.

    There is obvious pain and trauma to those without, but it is hardly intentional. I use the word “hardly” because in many cases we cannot control our actions.

    I’ve always summed up my nature this way. On the ouside, I am Doctor Jekyll but as soon as something triggers me I’m Mr.Hyde. It is one of the best representations of BPD (although slightly extreme).

    It is sad that a few of the low-functioning cases of BPD destroy the hearts and mind of those who are non-BPD. If you are high-functioning, we have to understand why we bear such a stigma.

    We are fortunate that some people stay, and in the same way we are fortunate that some people go. Although, it breaks my heart when someone leaves I know it may be better for them.

    My relationship of 3 years ended under the premise that I was emotionally abusive. He decided to go, but has moved on to a new relationship. I do on occasion envy his happiness or become bitter, but we do think about other’s happiness as well.

    We do not often receive the messages you are telling us because you’re not sending the proper messages.

    If you say: I’ll be home at 6:00pm.
    (Then you get off late and you’re driving home at 6:40).
    I will -think- that you’re busy sleeping with someone, you forgot about me, you’ve died, you’ve abandoned me, or you’re mad at me.

    The blunt statements people use are not validating and harsh. It isn’t a catering thing, so much as speaking in a form we can understand. We too have issues communicating to non-BPDers, and for that I apologize.

    Another good quote I’ve always thought represents my behavior comes from the Labyrinth, and although it is a negative view on someone with BPD I’m sure many people without will understand it.

    “Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.” ~ Jareth

    The expectations we have despite our obvious misanthropy is astounding, but I’m tired of ranting.

    To those who treat us so harshly, please understand there are two types of people with BPD. There are those who manipulate and attack, and those of us who run. Sadly, you got destroyers not someone who flees. Hopefully, you can recover one day.

    ❤ xoxo
    (sorry for just spewing babble)

  46. I read the letter and had I not had the experience of living with a BPD for years, I would almost feel sorry for them. This is my story, married a BDP, lovely woman, outgoing, smart, great in bed(they usually are), everything I thought I wanted. I gave her everything, from my faithful unconditional love to all the material things she would ever need. I worked full time, took care of the kids, cooked, cleaned, etc. 20 years and 3 kids later, after adjusting, surviving and putting up with her blacks and whites, accusations, blaming, playing the victim, she decides to cheat on me. I find out and confront her, she denies everything, I have proof and ask her for a divorce, she flips, gets into an uncontrollable rage, calls the cops, gets me arrested (lots of lies, the people that live with BPD know the drill). For the next year, she physically tortures the kids by tying them to their beds, not feeding them, threatening to kill herself if they ever leave her, while telling me she loves me and wants me back. At first I almost considered it because these people are such good liars, but then I find out that she had been sleeping around for years behind my back. I get checked for VD and turns out I have AIDS. This is the outcome of a BPD and the destruction they leave in their path. The kids are all suffering from all kinds of traumas, two are intitutionalized under suicidal watch 24/7, the third is messed up in the head. I am about to die from AIDS, while she has moved on and continues to sleep with lots of guys, sometimes 3 or 4 at the same time. My advice to you, no matter how strong you think you are or how under control your BPD thinks s/he is. Run the other way, you cannot help them, they don’t know what love is, they will eventually destroy you and feel no shame or guilt. These are sleeping monsters that once awake (usually when in their minds you abandoned them), will stop at nothing to destroy you and try to make you feel their self-inflicted “pain”. They will never say sorry, and their excuse will be, I can’t help it, I have BPD.

  47. You know I’m really sorry for your situation, but you have just stereotyped a so many people living with this condition based on one person. Also, if you have aids, doesn’t she have aids? Wasn’t she the one who gave it to you? How has she moved on..if she’s about to die?
    I have never abused anyone, just myself. Your wife has. Doesn’t mean everyone living with Bpd is an abuser. So, really I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through and are going through but please don’t call me a sleeping monster, I am far from that.

  48. This has all been very interesting to read…….being a victim of BPD person who walked out on me for whatever reason I have no idea and yes I did all I could, spent days and days sitting on the lounge listening and talking about what caused their BPD, was promised that they would open up and talk too me when they were on a low but not a word spoken even when I asked, everything was ok, they moved in with me in late November 2010, 5 days later they went on their low, 8 days later they were packing their bags and going back to their Bipolar mate to live with him again, this was a gay relationship by the way that this was, I talked to them when they got back there and I was to blame for everything yet he said I was perfect and couldn’t fault me, told his mate I was a sweet caring man while he was here with me, it broke my heart when he left and I was angry as i spent half my savings to get some things needed when he came, I gave him a new mobil phone, I cooked for him, I did the chores around the house while he sat on the lounge, I put a ring on his finger, I lined up a doctors appointment for him to get a referral to see a therapist, I was affectionate towards him, I told him everyday more than once a day that I loved him, I opened my home up to be his home for the rest of his life because he keeps moving around so I wanted him to feel stability, I bought cloths for him and the list goes on.

    His friend that he went back to was his ex partner, I tried to show him that he needed to move on from that because coming to live with me was his idea of starting a new life and getting the help he needed and to begin a new relationship but also I didn’t want the added problems of his Bipolar friend in my life which was being talked about alot, his mistake was he put me on a pedestal and realised when he got here that I do make mistakes so then I was a ***hole, he was on a low one day and I asked him to talk to me but he wouldn’t but he promised before he came to live with me that he would, he rang his ex and talked to him so then I got annoyed and said that if he and his ex can’t get along without eachother then he should go back to him and just like that he did, I got no explanation as to why he was leaving, I did get an email 4 days later with a whopper story that you knew was just a load of self convincing tales to stop the shame of what he had done, I didn’t get a sorry for the hurt he caused me and he knew it would brake my heart to see him go but I did get one comment the same as Dead Man got…..I can’t help it, I have BPD……same words. I told one of his friends what happened and then I got a phone call full of abuse and blame and put down, no gratitude for the help I tried to give him or for anything I did and all it left me with was a broken heart, depression which I had to go on anti depressants for because of the hurt I was feeling which went to the very core of me, I couldn’t eat or even go to the shops to buy food, I wouldn’t go out and all because I didn’t know what I had done which was probably nothing….That’s my story with a BPD person and I have spent about 60 hours on the internet trying to find an answer reading and reading and reading BPD websites……Happy New Year Everybody

  49. I am a child of bpd parents. Growing up with the two of them gives me a sharper insight into the behaviors and makeup than most. They each exhibit the same behavior patterns. It’s like a script they can’t deviate from. Trust me, they DON’T see the damage they cause to their nearest and dearest. They are highly manipulative. I would say the defining characteristics of bpd are the refusals to accept accountablity for their abusive outbursts; projecting all their vitriol onto their victim(s) in order to blame the victim and avoid facing responsibility. BPD persons are the most selfish people you will ever meet. Everything trumps their own selfish emotions/needs, including and especially the needs of their own children. They are like toddlers in an adult’s body; they throw tantrums, rage, then take no responsibilty for their behavior. The fact that they refuse to account for their actions (the common thing is to tell you they never did what you claim, the abuse never happened, you’re imagining it, etc) is much more abusive than their original outrageous behavior….In fact, it’s the most manipulative and damaging form of emotional abuse that exists. They intentionally inflict further psychiatric injury upon the victims of their wrath simply in an effort to evade responsibility. That is the kindest interpretation. The more sinister possibility is that a part of them sadistically ENJOYS the stunned paralysis their victim enters into when they’ve just been raged at and slapped, had dishes smashed at them and told it DIDN’T HAPPEN, YOU’RE CRAZY line. Keep in mind this sort of thing doesn’t happen once or twice, but is a repeated pattern re-cycling over years and years. This is ABUSE. This is manipulative. The BPD will often rage and abuse behind closed doors but then put on a completely charming and light-hearted persona for the public. An act. Because they KNOW their out of control behavior would not be accepted in the real world. People would hold them accountable. They only do it to their children, to their spouse, it’s all hidden for the times they can get away with it. That too, shows conscious manipulation. They can control their rage when it suits them. They CHOOSE to abuse. And they choose to deny and be oblivious as to how their behavior affects their family. I’ve come to the conclusion that BPD is not so much about people who have all these nasty volatile emotions they can’t grapple with…No, obviously they exhibit GREAT CONTROL when they wish, when it serves them. Otherwise they’d be out of control all the time, or sporadically. But no, they don’t behave this way in public where they’d be held accountable. Only in secret behind closed doors where they can get away with it. They wouldn’t want outsiders to see them the way they truly are. They care very much about their image. No, it’s not about a loss of control, but rather a highly controlled and directed rage. They cast out all their negative emotions into their “loved ones.” In other words, only those who are safe to abuse. Those who are attached or wholly dependent upon them and cannot leave (such as children/spouse). Everyone else gets their good side. This proves they have great control over their actions. It’s just that they are so utterly selfish they don’t care how they affect others. They may need you, but they don’t love you. Obviously. The selfish and immature behavior proves that. You are only an object to them, An object to vent on. To scapegoat. Other than that they might need you to fullfill their role in the world as “Parent” or “Spouse”
    They care immensely about how they appear to outsiders. Their image, their selfish emotions, trump any parental responsibilities. I’m sure anyone who has lived with a person with BPD has experienced ad nausem the routine where the BPD refused to account for their actions, they deny reality, the project, they scapegoat you, they blame you, they may lie about you in an effort to dirty your image as a pre-emptive strike in case you tell anyone about their abuse. They do anything and everything, no matter how evil, to avoid looking at themselves and taking accountability. Apologies DON’T happen, unless they are of the sarcastic self-pitying variety attached to threats of suidcide. The BPD does all this, all this sort of stuff is typical, and THEY DON’T GET HOW ABUSIVE IT IS! They only attack the person that tries to get them to see the problem for what it is (How else can you help them and affect change without first acknowledging the behavior?) Instead they view any attempts to get them to see their behavior as an excuse to attack you further, rage, or wallow in self pity while simulataneously trying to convince everyone they can that YOU are the difficult one. Hah! No wonder outsiders would have such a hard time believing the crazy messed up reality of living with someone with BPD. It’s just so head spinningly crazy. I’ve also learnt, Forget about trying to reason with someone with BPD. They always react as I described above. Forget it. You can’t reason with a personality disordered person. They don’t live in reality. They don’t account for their actions, or care how it affects others. Trying to explain to them how they affect others only sends them into a cycle of denial, projection, rage, blame the victim tirade. They will lie about what they’ve done, just like a toddler lies when asked if he hit his sibling. On the rare occasions when they’re confronted with irrefutable evidence of their behavior (recordings or there were witnesses) they won’t lie and deny for once. But do they apologise or acknowledge it? NO! They cry and wail “Why me?” and threaten suicide. At which point everyone stops holding them accountable and comforts them. The end result EVERY TIME is that they NEVER ACCEPT RESPONSABILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS. It’s pathological. It’s always in play. And all abusers use this tactic. It’s a defing trait of abusers to deny their abusive behavior and blame the victim. All abusers do this. For all of you who are recovered BPD I have to ask, have you accounted for your abusive behavior (yes, raging is abusive)? Have you accounted for those times you couldn’t face what you’d done and lied and denied, and blamed the targets of your rages? I’m curious how someone can go their whole life refusing to accept responsability for extreme and hurtful behavior and consider themselves recovered. This means, at some point they finally took accountability for their behavior. I’m curious how they might have achieved the ability to see themselves, to learn to see beyond their own selfish reality and understand how their behaviors affect the people in their lives. Can they learn accountability for their undesirable actions well into adulthood after a lifetime of avoiding it? Can one learn to care about the wellbeing of others before their own (a key ingredient to being a healthy parent)? Can they truly learn these things and how did they? I wonder if you need to be born with it or develop these things in early childhood, and if that didn’t happen, tough luck. Getting an abusive (or BPD) person to admit what they’ve done, to take accountability, to behave like an otherwise normal adult is incredibly hard. I would say impossible. But I’m open to hearing the exceptions. There are some who claim recovery. So I ask, How did you gain the ability to own your own behavior and how it has impacted your loved ones?

  50. Because if you haven’t done that (taken full responsability for your behavior) you aren’t recovered.

  51. By the way, I love my parents. For years I’ve tried to help them, my family, and myself. I’ve diligently tried to explain and reason with them, to understand. I’ve begged for mercy, for them to listen, to stop their abusive ways. Everytime, their reaction is the same. They cannot face their ugly side. They cannot accept that they do anything wrong. Ever. No matter how obvious or blatant their abuse, they will deny it. And if you try to explain how their behavior is affecting the family, forget it! They shout you down, they lie, they cover up what they did, they scapegoat you without shame. A normal parent wouldn’t do these things. I have never in all my years seen them apologise or even acknowledge their actions. If you dare to discuss it or try to get them to see themselves or see what they’re doing to you and your siblings they only twist everything around into lies and claim YOU are the difficult one. Apparently, if you don’t play along and pretend the abuse never happened, you are considered “difficult.” The parent throwing the tantrum ironically gets to point the finger at the thoughtful child and claim she is the one out of control…They are masters at twisting reality if reality shows them in a bad light. I realise these are all defense mechanisms but lying, raging, blaming your children for your violent outbursts, then denying you ever committed them, is abusive. These are their patterns and they never deviate from them. I’ve finally come to realise they never will. Nothing can be done to get them to snap out of it and accept responsability. Not even their own children’s wellbeing. The WORST part about BPD is not the volatile emotions or outbursts, it is the refusal to accept accountability for these behaviors. It is downright cruel to deny what you did and try to convince your victim it never happened and they’re crazy OR it’s all the vicitm’s fault, blame the victim, they “made you mad” they made you throw dishes at them. Please. It is so callous to abuse someone and then try to drive them crazy all because you don’t want to face what you’ve done. Nothing defines BPD more than this total refusal to accept accountability for their abusive behavior. It does not change. The sick thing is I think they actually let a part of themselves believe their own denials. It’s just so sick and scary when a parent refused to account for their actions. For the recovered BPD here, what made you wake up and see your behavior for what it was? I know abusers never think of themselves as such. They actually, ironically think they are victims. What made you stop twisting reality? What made you face yourself? What made you WAKE UP?

  52. Having been raised by a BP and becoming a non BP with PTSD as a result, I have compassion for the torment that is BPD but if you really want the validation and love you seek, the burden is on you, not those you want love from, to work it out. That isn’t being cold, that is what the world is. You are the one with the disorder, it is up to you to seek help for your BPD while we non-BPs work on getting the help *we* need. Asking us to give just a little more rope is just adding injury to injury. I know you think it’s all about you but it really isn’t.

  53. As it says in my post we have been working our whole lives to get better, problem is many people do not give us a chance. Another problem is there is such little help out there for this as it is so stigmatized. I have had to pay money I cant even begin to calculate for help, to be told, you’re too high risk I can’t see you anymore. Where does that leave me? No, its not all about me, but I am all about trying to save my own life, whats left of it.

    • I was raised by a mother with severe BPD. As I write this, she is asleep in the bedroom and I am sitting in her living room packing boxes full of masses of hoarded items to move them from here to a storage unit so she can move away from neighbors that she is convinced are mafiosos plotting to kill her because she “knows too much”. My brother died of a meth overdose in July, and despite his years of well-known addiction struggles, she believes that his overdose was a cover-up for murder because my brother “knew too much”, as well. She has only packed a few boxes herself because she stops every thirty seconds to stew over some imagined persecution or other, or to pick a fight with my stepdad or sister (which I have to deftly defuse so we can actually make some progress in here). In my childhood, she beat me, emotionally abused me, and exposed me to behavior that I would now consider sexual abuse as well. She remembers none of it, because it all threatens her self-image as a victim of worldly persecution just trying to do her best for her kids. She remembers none of it, and she seems utterly baffled by how difficult it is for those who love her to spend any significant amount of time with her.

      I will never get the satisfaction of an apology because my mother is constitutionally incapable of recognizing the need to apologize, or at least, acknowledging the need to apologize is too dangerous to her tenuous sense of identity, so she walls herself off from recognizing it, even shutting herself down in moments of clarity so as to avoid confronting that reality. It’s fascinating; I can almost see the switch flip when she starts to recognize that she was abusive and feels the guilt and shame coming on, and then suddenly her defenses kick in and she launches into excuse mode.

      My sisters can’t handle her. They’re pretty angry still. It makes sense that I would be furthest along; my older sister had kids at seventeen and has been too busy being a mom, and my little sister is still young and coming into herself, part of which process includes working through anger as a child of a BPD sufferer. So that leaves me to be peacemaker and mediator whenever we all interact. I don’t mind anymore, but there was a time that my only coping mechanism was avoidance.

      I think the thing a lot of people are missing on both sides of this discussion is the fact that all experiences are true and valid. A person with BPD has a totally valid experience that completely contradicts that of the people around them, who also have completely valid experiences. I truly experienced terrible abuse at the hands of my mother, and she truly did her best as my mother. Those two things seem contradictory, but they’re not; she was so abusive to her family and nobody else precisely because she only felt deeply for her family and tried hard (and failed hard) to cultivate relationships that she was woefully unequipped to manage. This is not an excuse, but it is a reason.

      It helps me to simply see my mom as ill

    • I was raised by a mother with severe BPD. As I write this, she is asleep in the bedroom and I am sitting in her living room packing boxes full of masses of hoarded items to move them from here to a storage unit so she can move away from neighbors that she is convinced are mafiosos plotting to kill her because she “knows too much”. My brother died of a meth overdose in July, and despite his years of well-known addiction struggles, she believes that his overdose was a cover-up for murder because my brother “knew too much”, as well. She has only packed a few boxes herself because she stops every thirty seconds to stew over some imagined persecution or other, or to pick a fight with my stepdad or sister (which I have to deftly defuse so we can actually make some progress in here). In my childhood, she beat me, emotionally abused me, and exposed me to behavior that I would now consider sexual abuse as well. She remembers none of it, because it all threatens her self-image as a victim of worldly persecution just trying to do her best for her kids. She remembers none of it, and she seems utterly baffled by how difficult it is for those who love her to spend any significant amount of time with her.

      I will never get the satisfaction of an apology because my mother is constitutionally incapable of recognizing the need to apologize, or at least, acknowledging the need to apologize is too dangerous to her tenuous sense of identity, so she walls herself off from recognizing it, even shutting herself down in moments of clarity so as to avoid confronting that reality. It’s fascinating; I can almost see the switch flip when she starts to recognize that she was abusive and feels the guilt and shame coming on, and then suddenly her defenses kick in and she launches into excuse mode.

      My sisters can’t handle her. They’re pretty angry still. It makes sense that I would be furthest along; my older sister had kids at seventeen and has been too busy being a mom, and my little sister is still young and coming into herself, part of which process includes working through intense anger as a child of a BPD sufferer. So that leaves me to be peacemaker and mediator whenever we all interact. I don’t mind anymore, but there was a time that my only coping mechanism was avoidance.

      I think the thing a lot of people are missing on both sides of this discussion is the fact that all experiences are true and valid. A person with BPD has a totally valid experience that completely contradicts that of the people around them, who also have completely valid experiences. I truly experienced terrible abuse at the hands of my mother, and she truly did her best as my mother. Those two things seem contradictory, but they’re not; she was so abusive to her family and nobody else precisely because she only felt deeply for her family and tried hard (and failed hard) to cultivate relationships that she was woefully unequipped to manage. This is not an excuse, but it is a reason.

      It helps me to simply see my mom as critically and chronically  ill. I’ve made peace with the reality that she will never openly apologize to me; I’m an adult now and part of my job in managing my own baggage is to take responsibility for it myself, the way we all wish people with BPD could do. Practice what we preach. It sucks that my mom won’t apologize, and it sucks that she doesn’t know a healthy way to interact with the people she cares about, but I’m a grown-up now and I’m doing nobody any favors by carrying that around with me.

      I’ve also learned to listen; I read in between the lines of what she’s saying to hear what she is unable to express. I don’t focus on the personal attacks, I deflect them and get at the cause. It’s a little extra mental gymnastics, but to me, being able to forgive my mom and have a relationship with her on my terms is important. I realize that for some people the only option is cutting ties, but for me the reward is worth the effort. Of course, getting to this point took a lot of time and therapy and tears and prayers, and I doubt I would be here if I didn’t see small flashes of recognition on her part that she has a problem and wishes desperately that she could overcome it.

      Despite those flashes, she’s still the same old person with the same old maladaptive behaviors, but I am different. I have learned that the quickest way to bring her out of attack mode is to just be even and reassuring and also firm with my own boundaries. When she rages, I tell her that if she continues I will leave and come back when she’s able to be calm, and then I stand by my word. The single thing she craves but never feels is stability; I am the most predictable person in her life because I make it a point to be consistent no matter how I feel – the thing she is unable to do. I’ve learned to “fill up” emotionally from other sources to brace myself with the patience to deal with her, and I’ve learned to stop expecting behavior that she isn’t capable of. No, she’s not the mother I wish I had, but I love her, and I know that she wants to love me, which is as close to her actually being able to love me as she can get. 

       I’m not advocating for anyone to remain in an abusive situation; by all means, do what you need to do to protect and nourish yourself emotionally. But I think the point of Fia’s letter is that it’s just as black-and-white to write off someone with BPD as a one-dimensional villain as anything they do, and as people, too, they crave love and understanding that their illness has deprived them of experiencing. If you are able to fortify yourself sufficiently to be able to manage someone with this illness effectively, there absolutely is a reward. Some of my healing has come in the form of steeling myself to deal with my mom and realizing that when she’s not in emotional crisis mode and lashing out, she is actually a generous, loving person. That she really does care about my well-being, she’s just so mired in her illness that she can’t express it clearly. But the more time I spend with her on my terms (coping skills and boundaries firmly in place), the more I see the beauty that I couldn’t see before. The more good memories and good laughs we share. And the more I heal, because I finally get to have a connection with my mom as a friend, even though she couldn’t really be my mom. And the more I realize that I’m gonna be okay anyway.

  54. Bill, that was very well put! I can tell you, that since I have eradicted the BPD in my life, and brought her actions and intentions,to the attention of those around me( I bought several copies of “Walking on Eggshells” and distributed them), the destruction and manipulation has completly ceased. I have been able to move past them,with a minimum of fallout, for that I am grateful. It could NOT have been done without friends and family on board and shutting her down. TBTG!!!!

  55. this is so beautiful ..im using it for my project on mental health about myself 🙂 i couldn’t of said it any better myself. thx

  56. I totally disagree with this letter, it is well written and uses many flowery words, but it does not depict the actual reality of what a Bdper is, and does not depict what a BDP relationship does to the non-Bdper…

    Love is about mutual needs being filled, mutual respect, and mutual interests…BDPers do not offer this outright, it might be presesnt during the idealization phase, and very peridoic through the clinger and hater phases…abuse and manipulation are their tools…

    Go ahead and fly, fly free, but land upon a spot where you learn to take accountability in reality for the pain you have projected before trying to attempt closure so poetically through the use of words instead of ations that indiciate true apology and awareness…

  57. I have the utmost compassion for those diagnosed and not with BPD symptoms. And I have an equal amount of compassion for those who attempt to live with and love one with BPD. It’s not possible to have a healthy relationship. BPD’s are too self absorbed to be partners.

    We all, regardless of our shortcomings, illnesses and backgrounds, should stay free of harming those we say we love. Other people are not to be used to save ourselves. We must first be able to claim we are healthy and can benefit a relationship in at least equal measure and without undue pain.

    Good luck in getting healthy and then finding companionship.

  58. I absolutely loved it. As I Just found out last year and 1/2 ago that not yet been diagnosed as BPD, but I know I have this horrible disease cause that’s exactly what it is, a vicious disease. It relieving to know there’s o there’s that actually feel my pain and understand. I want my boyfriend to read this,but, as wonderful as he is in staying with me this long and putting up with, me loving me,still isn’t enough and it frustrates him cause he hates to see me in pain but there’s nothing for him to do, but give up and he holding on as long as he can but he doesn’t understand he doesn’t hear me screaming for help, in ways he doesn’t understand he says he cant reward bad behavior,=( and when I talk about my BPD he gets negative and reminds me of how bad our life will be if I don’t work. I know that but I’m sick………Its not what I did in the past do i want to be rewarded for, I want now the moments that take place when we talk to be rewarded with compassion, empathy, consoling, understanding.. So I would of let him read the amazing letter you wrote I’m in my head it would bring some clarity to him, but even mention the idea about reading it made him weird ed out by it and negative as if to say ” what makes u think your gonna change the way i think about it.” So now i don’t want him to read i was really excited that maybe he could finally understand what I’m going through, and maybe it would help out a bit about his confusion. If he so worried about making me happy then why he can’t he be understanding about this disease that is taking over my body and my life, it effects everything I do everyday I struggle to make decisions cause I’m so scared to make the wrong one that cause a consequence. any who enough about my boring sappy story , yours was awesome. congrats.

  59. “We know how we may come across as manipulative, controlling, unwilling to change, attention-seeking, even intolerable.”

    And as a NON-BPD, I knew how intolerable it was to have this in my life – which is why I broke up with my undiagnosed BPD girlfriend and never looked back.

    If you have BPD, face your trauma, get honest with yourself, and get the help you need. NO ONE has the right to take their damage out on someone else – not even people with a mental illness. This is not about JUDGING; it’s about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

  60. BPD’s could seek out other BPD’s the
    way HIV positive people seek out other
    HIV people for relationships.

    You can understand and deal with each others abuse and chaos with wisdom and compassion. That’s your line — but you
    don’t want to take on someone like you.

    Neither do I.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: