Yes, eerily accurate in some ways.
Accurate in what ways specifically? For example, does your W throw temper tantrums filled with verbal abuse every 2 or 3 weeks? Or, rather, does she punish you, instead, by withdrawing into icy silence and passive aggressive behaviors when her anger is triggered? I ask because almost all online information is about the former, i.e., about the "acting out" BPDers. There are a few good articles, however, about the "acting in" BPDers.
It is some what of a relief that there is information out there to help me deal with watching these patterns.
Yes, exactly, by identifying the pattern -- instead of looking only at individual traits (e.g., verbal abuse) -- you can increase your understanding a hundred fold. Of course, you will NOT be able to diagnose her. Only a professional can determine whether her traits are so severe as to meet 100% of the diagnostic guidelines.
Spotting the red flags, however, is not difficult if you take time to learn which traits are on the list. This is because BPD traits constitute a "spectrum disorder" that affects all of us to some degree. Indeed, we all occasionally exhibit all nine BPD traits, albeit at a low level if we are emotionally healthy. And we occasionally will exhibit them at a strong level, as occurs when our BPD traits flair up during a very stressful event that makes us very angry.
This means you already know what these traits feel like on the inside and look like on the outside. For example, every time you experience very strong emotions, you experience the thought distortions that are typical of BPD. The difference, then, is that BPD sufferers experience them more intensely, more persistently, and more frequently.
All of my efforts up to this point obviously haven't produced the results I was hoping for.
If your W suffers from a PD such as BPD, that will continue to be true even after this point. There is absolutely nothing you can do to fix her. She must have the self awareness and ego strength to want to fix herself. Very few PD sufferers do -- even though there are many excellent treatment programs available.
I am trying not to use it to validate myself but more to understand my own feelings.... I am an engineer so collecting information like a sponge just helps my analytical personality. Hence Mr. Fixit.
With respect to machines, yes, it is the "analytical"
aspect of your personality that makes you "Mr. Fixit." With respect to people, however, it is the "excessive caregiver"
aspect of your personality that makes you try to fix people like your wife. The analytical part of your mind already knows that is an impossible task and likely thinks you are a fool for trying. Yet, until you are convinced of the futility at a deep emotional level, you likely will keep trying. I am the same way. It took me 15 years to learn that it is impossible to make an unhappy person become happy. She must learn how to do that for herself.
The main problem we have is that our desire to be needed
(for what we can do) far exceeds our desire to be loved
(for the men we already are). The best explanation of how we came to be this way, during our childhoods, is provided by therapist Shari Schreiber at DO YOU LOVE TO BE NEEDED, OR NEED TO BE LOVED?
. Please be patient -- the last half of that article is much better than the first half.
If that article rings a bell, you likely have so much empathy -- and such low personal boundaries -- that it is difficult for you to know where YOUR problems stop and HER problems begin. They all blend together in a haze. I was the same way. I therefore found that, by first understanding the nature of my exW's problems, I could more easily see -- through subtraction -- the remaining part I was responsible for.
This "backwards approach" to understanding yourself often works so well because it is far easier to see another person's problems than our own. I therefore understand what you mean when you say, "I am trying not to use it to validate myself but more to understand my own feelings."
As an initial matter,
Yes, any more resources would be very welcome.
if you ever start suspecting your W has strong BPD traits, I recommend that you NOT tell her. If she is a BPDer, she almost certainly will project the accusation right back onto you, believing YOU to be the BPDer. Instead, simply encourage her to see a good psychologist (not a MC) and let the psych decide what to tell her.
I suggest that, while waiting for your therapist appointment, you read Stop Walking on Eggshells
, the best-selling BPD book targeted to spouses like you. (The second-best selling BPD book is I Hate You, Don't Leave Me
.) If your therapist concludes that your W likely has strong BPD traits, and if you decide to divorce her, get Splitting: Protecting Yourself when Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist
because leaving a BPDer can get nasty really quickly. It is written by the Eggshells
if your therapist suspects BPD, I suggest you start participating (or at least lurking) at BPDfamily.com -- the largest and most active BPD forum I've found that is devoted fully to the spouses and family members of BPDers. This issue is such an enormous problem that that website is growing by 20 new members every day. The result is that it offers eight separate message boards on various BPD issues. The ones that likely will be most helpful to you are the "Staying"
board, and "Raising a Child when One Parent Has BPD."
while you are at BPDfamily.com, I suggest you read the excellent articles in their resources section. My favorite is "Surviving a Breakup with Someone with BPD" at T9 Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder - Columbia University, New York
I again suggest you see a clinical psychologist
-- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with -- and how likely it is she may pass it on to your children. If your upcoming therapy meeting is not with a psychologist, I suggest you also make an appointment with a psychologist -- i.e., having a PhD in psychology -- who will be better trained in identifying mental disorders.
, please don't forget those of us on this TAM forum. We want to keep trying to answer your questions and providing emotional support as long as you find our shared experiences helpful. Moreover, by sharing your own experiences here, you likely will be helping numerous other members and lurkers.