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to Family Member Letter about Rages
Person With Borderline Personality
Dear family member of a sufferer of borderline
Your letter will no doubt hit home with many readers of the
You ask whether there is hope. My personal experience as a
person with BPD is "yes". Absolutely yes. However,
recovery from the abusive behaviour that you describe is only
possible if the afflicted individual, in this case your
partner, has committed to making the getting the necessary
changes that will be required in order for improvement to come
My own story is also one in which I was subjected to rage and
the targets most often were my loved ones --lovers, children,
brother, sisters--; the closer they were to me, the harder I
was on them to the point all were withdrawing from my life.
And it wasn't for a lack of trying (to change my ways) that my
rages continued. Over a period of more than twenty years I saw
several psychiatrists and psychologists and other therapists
without any improvement whatsoever until the day I saw a
psychiatrist who made the diagnosis of BPD. For years and
years, I knew something was gravely wrong with me but no one
knew what it was that was causing me to short circuit and blow
up and even less as to what might be done about it --until
that proper diagnosis--.
Within days of receiving my diagnosis, I got my hands on
everything I could that was written on the subject, stuffed
the books and literature in a suitcase, and jumped on a plane,
by myself, to a quiet resort in Mexico, where I could absorb
what information there was on the subject, and thought about
how my life was being ruined by the disorder, ultimately
drawing up a plan for my recovery.
In order to make this happen, I realized two things would have
to change right away. No booze or inappropriate use of drugs
or medication as every single rage, interestingly, had
occurred under the influence of some substance or other.
Secondly, I would immediately adopt a policy
of what I coined a "zero tolerance of bad behaviour"
--something I demanded from myself as well as those around
me--. This would mean not seeing many of the people from my
old entourage, as abusers tend to attract other screwed up
people, who often will themselves also misbehave in turn and
make use of substances in their attempt to escape their mental
torment; as well, my siblings, raised under the same abusive
conditions by our parents as the writer was, also were
unknowingly suffering from borderline personality disorder,
and each of those relationships (two sisters, one brother, and
both parents) had to be let go. I no longer see any of them.
And so, not only did I have to cease from having any contact
with my immediate family (who by the way also happen to be
substance abusers with the exception of the parents), it also
would mean changing all of my friends as they were all
boozers, or social drinkers as they liked to call themselves
in polite society. Same difference... at the end of the day,
no matter what you call it, a drunk is a drunk is a drunk. It
also meant changing other behaviours, such as no longer
frequenting establishments where the sole purpose is to drink.
Guess what? My formula worked like a dream. It was quite
literally, an overnight success story of winning over the
disease. Even my psychiatrist was amazed at how quickly my
"condition" was brought under control. Not
surprisingly, my marriage just as quickly improved, and my
partner and I re-found one another, and in the process,
developed a deeper bond and commitment, also finding some new
meaning of our life experience as we were suddenly able to
refocus our lives on other things that have been much, much
Best of all, the entire transition was easy, once the
decisions of what I would do were made. But you're hearing
from one guy who was terribly motivated. I WANTED TO BE WELL.
And once I knew what the problem was, I immediately chose to
do something about it.
How hopeful can you be your situation can also get better???
That's a big question no one but your partner can answer. And
from what you say, there is no reason --at least not at this
point-- to think things will get better for your partner and
in turn for you. As Patty says, everybody is an individual
with their own unique personality and set of circumstances.
Also, there is your own role in all of this, and from the
sounds of it, you have been more than tolerant of your
partner's misbehaviour. You may need to get some help in order
that you can not only try to help your partner but save
yourself in the process. Remember, your first responsibility
is towards yourself.
Meanwhile, by tolerating the partner's bad
behaviour as you say you have, you inadvertently have served
to "enable" your partner's disease process to be
further expressed. What price has he paid for his bad
behaviour when you are still there, offering! yourself up as a
target for his misdirected illness-driven aggression? And why
are you staying in a relationship that you admit risks driving
you to self destruct??? It is my opinion you have some serious
issues as the abused mate here that would need to be addressed
by a competent professional with significant expertise in
abusive relationships. Only by helping yourself and learning
what you need to know about taking care of yourself first will
ever you have a chance of offering some support to your
partner that might be of some benefit to him.
In summary, my advice to you is threefold: [one] - determine a
criteria that would keep you in this relationship (a set of
demands of concrete steps your partner must take in terms of
getting professional help, and a commitment to changed
behaviours (examples: not allowed to rage, no drinking, etc.)
that will facilitate a quick and complete end to all rageous
and abusive behaviours); [two] unless the inappropriate
behaviour stops and specific actions are taken to bring about
the necessary changes as said, GET OUT of this relationship
and RUN, don't walk, RUN!!! --and don't look back--. Remember,
talk is cheap. And abusers quite typically talk a good talk
and will say they are sorry and that they will never do it
again, often blaming their own bad behaviour on others, a
stressful event or what have you, and so on... failing to make
the necessary changes of themselves that are the only things
that can actually and effectively make things better; [three]
consult a psychiatrist or registered psychologist specializing
in abuse victimization.
There's a good reason you find yourself in
this situation and so vulnerable you have allowed the bad
behaviour of another person to affect your own mental
well-being (and quite possibly your own physical health and
personal security, as well). Unfortunately, all too often the
victims of abuse eventually believe their abusers and begin to
accept the bad behaviour as something they deserve, believing
they must have done something to deserve it; also, issues of
low self esteem can be severe, after years of being
denigrated, a pattern that often began in the original family
home as a child. There is good treatment available for this
sort of problem now.
Good luck and here's wishing you all the best.
Permission by Anonymous
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Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All