to Family Member Letter about Rages
Family Member and Consumer - Borderline Personality
Disorder and Bipolar Disorder
With respect to your request for replies to
this lady's letter, I'm not sure that my response is quite
what you are looking for. However, I'll let you be the judge
of that, and you have my permission to use it as you see fit.
The lyrics from a song come to mind ... "I've looked at
life from both sides now ..."
I have been receiving your newsletters for over a year now,
and this is the FIRST time I have felt truly compelled to
write. To be honest, I really don't know for sure if I have
borderline personality disorder ('though I do have many of the
same traits) and I don't "think" I am bipolar. But I
do know that I am a terrible mess - confused - depressed most
of the time - exasperated - overwhelmed -angry and impatient
at other times. And, like the lady who wrote to you, I also
exhibit the characteristics of someone with a "dependant
personality", not to mention "avoidant
behavior". The thing is, her letter could have just as
easily been written by me - the only difference is that my
husband (who has been diagnosed with bipolar & borderline personality
disorder) is no longer living with us.
One would think that now that he's no longer here (it's been
over a year), and I'm no longer walking on egg-shells, that I
would be doing better - "NOT". I do need some kind
of help, but I'm basically "Therapied - Out" so to
speak. After spending six years in counseling trying to get to
the bottom of my issues and trying to "FIX ME"
(thinking that I was the CAUSE of his blow-up's, anger, rage,
physical and mental cruelty), I was thoroughly exhausted - not
to mention emotionally and spiritually depleted.
Nevertheless, dear lady, you need to know that what your
therapist says - about your reluctance to remove yourself
being "dangerous", is likely very true. Especially
if your husband is becoming destructive (throwing/breaking
things - in particular, your things) or violent. By choosing
to remain in this situation, you are not doing yourself nor
your husband any favors. To answer your question about whether
there is any hope ... there is always hope ... but not while
the two of you remain in this "addictive
relationship", and in such close proximity of one
another. The only way to make it stop is to end the addiction.
And the only way to end the addiction is to remove yourself -
and for your husband to remove himself (this is a two way
street remember) from the substance of your addiction - Your
Destructive Relationship. Only then can you both take the time
you need to heal (if you're both willing to do that), to
become "whole" and reasonably "healthy
individuals". This means "NO CONTACT" for at
least one year. The old relationship has to end (die), in
order for a different kind of relationship to emerge
Unfortunately, I had to find this out the hard way ...
I kept "holding on", insisting that there had to be
some other way or something
we could do to make things better without having to separate.
I simply couldn't accept the idea of living without him.
During one of my husband's explosive episodes and what I used
to call "all-nighters", I summoned what little
courage I had and asked him why he didn't break something of
his own for a change? That's when he beat ME. I also know what
it's like to feel paralyzed, and "cringe" in fear.
It was "our" therapist (we saw him individually, and
occasionally as a couple) who helped me to "hold him
accountable". I went to see him that morning after being
beaten, hoping that maybe he would suggest what I should have
done (or not done) differently. Do you know, it took him 45
minutes out of an hour long appointment to convince me that I
needed to call the Police? It's not the therapists
responsibility to hold your husband accountable - it's yours.
If your husband is in fact physically abusive to you, there
are people who will assist you in holding him accountable ...
they're called "The Police". My therapist couldn't
make the phone call for me (not that he wasn't willing to at
least dial the number for me), because it was crucial that I
not only learn how to stand up and be "accountable"
for myself, but for my husband to learn that he would not be
permitted [by me] to treat me that way.
Some of us (myself included) just happen to be slow learners.
Later, and while we were still together, I did manage to put a
couple of suggestions from our therapist to use - - those
suggestions may very well have saved my life!:
1. When (so and so) speaks to you that way, say "I don't deserve
to be spoken to that way, and if you can't speak to me
with respect and in a manner that allows my dignity to remain
intact, then I am not going to have this conversation. THEN
(I was only able to do this over the telephone with him - face
to face, I'm not so sure I'd have had the nerve.)
2. When things begin to escalate, take a "time-out"
(sounds easy enough doesn't it?) "You don't ASK for a
time-out" he said, "you TAKE IT!!" ...
"If that means having to leave the house for a while,
then LEAVE! If it means having to phone a taxi and
spending the night in a hotel, then GO!"
So I did ...
He had been screaming and swearing at me over the phone. I
could hardly get a word in edgewise. Then, I remembered what
Al (our therapist) told me to say. So I said it. That just
made him angrier, and he continued to scream obscenities and
accusations. So I hung up. I then knew one of two things was
about to happen ... he was either going to call right back, or
he was on his way home. When the phone didn't ring within a
minute or so, I knew he was on his way and I knew I needed to
take time-out. The children were spending the night at
Grandma's, but I couldn't go there as he would likely show up
looking for me - if he saw that my van wasn't there, he
hopefully wouldn't disturb them. So I spent the night at ...
you guessed it ... a hotel.
I fully expected that after a nights rest -
we'd be able to talk things over calmly. However, upon my
return home the next morning (knowing that he'd already left
for work), I soon realized it was a good thing that I left the
house when I did. It was trashed ... pictures torn off the
wall and smashed on the floor, the stereo I'd given to my son
for Christmas was destroyed, broken glass lay everywhere -
even the newly planted flower beds and perennials were ripped
up and stomped on - our beautiful home looked like a war zone.
Once again I returned to Al's office looking for advice on how
to "handle" the situation, and once again he handed
me the phone. Only this time it was my husband's probation
officer that I had to speak to. This time Al told me that he
was "extremely concerned for my safety", and this
time I finally began to take him seriously.
We are apart now. I can't expect him to change (maybe he will,
maybe not). I can only work on me, and as I see it (even at 44
yrs of age) I still have a fair bit of growing up to do. Maybe
once I am able to fully respect and love myself, he will too.
My heart goes out to you both. May God bless and keep you.
Permission by Anonymous
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