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Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Married To A Borderline Personality

Married To a Borderline Personality

See Formerly Abused Guy's original email, "Arrested Development"


After reading Elizabeth's story I was really overwhelmed with a desire to share more details of my story. I think I have two reason's to do this, maybe three.  1. To help others who are in these relationships,  2. To try and bring some "closure" to my own relationship with an abuser. 3. Hopefully to prevent me from getting into another one of these types of relationships.  If you were in better shape, you would have listed the "closure" (No. 2) reason and the "prevention" ( No. 3) reasons first and second. How codependent to think of helping others first! Time to get self-caring!

I'm not a calendar keeper (physically or mentally). I cannot recall the exact time line of my descent into this hell hole. I originally thought the good time lasted one year, but being realistic and checking some key points in our relationship, it probably only lasted 6 months. The balance of the eight and a half years involved my descent into hell and my struggle to climb out. 

When I met my wife, Mary, we hopped into bed on the second date. I barely knew her, but she was an aggressive seductress, and I willingly gave in. This is why it makes sense to keep sex out of the picture for a (long) while; clouds judgment!  Also, unscrupulous women often use sex as a means of control. Kind of like taking candy from a baby; no resistance. I was single, 48, living and working on my own small farm, owned a construction business, and did consulting. My handicapped child lived with me.

Mary was still legally married, but her husband had moved out (I now understand why). She had four children, was very attractive, intellectually gifted, out going, friendly, and aggressive. She came into my life, straightened out my house, took care of my paper work, cooked great meals, spent quality time with the children, and dragged me into the bedroom if I even thought I was up to it. (She could read my mind or smell the pheromones - whatever.)

Gradually the paper work was let go, the kitchen became messier and messier, she spent more and more time in bed, the laundry was not done. This happened in small, incremental stages.  We started squabbling. I can't recall all the squabbles, but it got to the point where I wanted out. I did not like this constant squabbling. While we worked on our problems, it did not help. Her anger would explode unexpectedly, and I would react. Good for you for getting away from a lady too sick to be a partner, but stop reacting for your own sake!

Finally, I said "Enough!" But, she begged and pleaded and used the kids as a weapon. "You can't leave! You are the kids' father; they don't even know their real father; you will destroy the kids, please - let's stay together and work this out."

Then I committed the most heinous crime that can be committed against a person with this mental/emotional dysfunction: my sexual desire diminished.  It seemed when she wanted sex (I'm going to stop using the words, "make love," because it appears sex was what she wanted and needed), which was constant and unrelenting, I would have flash-backs to her abuse and neglect.  Love-making is one of the first things to go with conflict, and one of the last to return when the relationship improves. This whole thing became a vicious circle. Yes. The more disinterested in sex I was, the worse she became. Clearly Mary was either a sex-addict, and/or used sex as a means of control. Either way, you frustrated her.

I did not understand this cycle. Of course, I was to blame - and in fact accepted the blame and became very confused and depressed. She got pregnant. When I look back at this, I see that it was not an accident. During her pregnancy and after our son was born, she sank deeper into her pit. The house was a mess, the kids were bashed around, no laundry, little cooking. I did all the shopping, cleaned the house as best I could, became the primary caretaker of the kids. 

Her demands for sex were unrelenting, and she became very abusive. She is probably sex-addicted, that is, sex made her forget her pain and helped her feel taken care of. Suicide, suicide, suicide threats, morning noon and night. Several attempts. Oh boy... Constant ideation about suicide. I dragged her to multiple counselors. Our house was raided by the DHS. We went to family counseling. I finally saw how the fighting and loud voices hurt the kids YES! and I resolved to stop it Good. I also took a serious look at my wife's accusation that I had an evil twin and that I howled at the moon. ("Moon-cycle dysfunction".)

Now I could finally see what was going on. There was a moon-cycle dysfunction, but it was my wife who would periodically erupt, not me. Horrible, horrible PMS? When she did I would do battle with her. I was to blame for the fighting because I would defend myself, or, even worse, try and put some logic or reason into the arguments. Or, The Worst, prove she was wrong!

Then I committed the second serious, heinous crime: I stopped fighting with her. Good for you. This really unleashed what I can only describe as demonic behavior. She became so angry that her eyes would fully dilate into a blank stare, she spewed forth unbelievable foul and obscene language, constant blame, judging, criticism, suicidal threats. My daughter had to go live elsewhere, and two of her children went to live with their father. Mary is a sick lady. She is not capable of being a partner from what you describe.

Writing about this is very painful. I'll take a break here and try to put some perspective into this. From my understanding, Mary has, without question, what is referred to as "Borderline Personality Disorder." Prior to reading about this I tried to label it as Bipolar, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), demonic possession, whatever came down the pike. The possession part is out of my field of expertise, but one can have a personality disorder with other disorders superimposed. My attempts to look at this behavior as demonic possession were futile. When she was in a rage, there were no morals, no concept of religion or God, no sense of responsibility to the children, no right or wrong, no logic or reason, just absolute and outright destruction, rage, hatred, and anger in its worst form. The BPD makes it sound so simple: she needs, wants, and demands unrealistic attention and will do anything at all to get her way, any way she can without concept of  _________ (you fill in the blank.)

Ignorance is bliss? I felt my life was completely shattered when I was diagnosed with ADD. I saw myself defined in writing, black & white. The years of unending change, the amazing diversity and experiences, the thousands of unfinished events. The WHYs that were answered. With this knowledge I have become aware of my actions, but still seem powerless to change. Take this type of man and mix him with a women who meets every criteria for BPD...

There is not one place I visited on the WWW that discusses BPD where I have not seen my wife in almost every word, every description. "Borderers," those that acknowledge they are BPD, who write about their experience, are telling my wife's story. I know her story. She has told it to me in verbally and in writing. She has begged for understanding and acceptance and forgiveness. I could not give her forgiveness because her violence and abuse has filled my mind and destroyed any chance of my wanting to help her. When she was asked to leave our home of 9 years by a sheriff deputy, I felt unbelievable relief. My son and I were at last "safe" from the uninvited beast who unexpectedly assaulted us.  

Unbeknownst to me, the emotional attachment was still there. When my attractive, beguiling wife found another "victim" I was torn beyond description.

I have one more quest. I have to know the WHYs of her problem, is that possible? -Formerly Abused Husband

Dear Formerly Abused Husband,

By WHYs, if you mean how she got to where she is, the best answer I can give you is nature/nurture - 50/50 best guess. At this stage of the game, we believe that individuals are predisposed genetically to personality disorders - just as they are to schizophrenia, OCD,  depression, bipolar disorder, etc. 

The psychodynamic writers in particular are best at describing the etiology and phenomenology of BPD. They posit that Borderline Personality (and related personality disorders) are the result of impaired "object relations," i.e., the ability to connect with another human being, based on early childhood experience. If you want to take a look at graduate-level material, check out Margaret Mahler's et al. classic, The Psychological Birth of Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individual. While not specific to BPD, this research-based textbook shows how early parenting contributes to adult interpersonal relatedness. 

From a cognitive-behavioral perspective, Marsha Linehan's Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder (Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders) is excellent. This academically well-known and well-respected clinician-researcher's book focuses more on treatment than etiology, but educates the reader to the tasks the BPD-afflicted individual faces. No psychobabble.

From the self-help/lay perspective, I Hate You, Don't Leave Me by Kriesman et al. will help you understand the disorder and how to cope if you have a BPD-afflicted loved one. Ditto for Stop Walking on Eggshells; Coping When Someone You Love Has PBD by Mason et al.

Also, here are some BPD links contributed by a reader.

Learn about Borderline Personality Disorder if you wish. Knowledge is power. But, don't discount your own codependent inability to focus inside and take care of yourself first. You need to do this. If you don't care for yourself, nobody else will.

My very best wishes, Dr. Irene

See why one person doesn't think Dr. Irene did her homework!