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Tears and Healing
The Journey to the Light after an Abusive Relationship
by Richard Skerritt
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Is He/She Borderline?- You're not Crazy.
Learn the disease. Stop the abuse.
(this essay adapted from
Tears and Healing Reflections
with selected pages from Meaning from Madness)
Is your partner borderline? You may not know how to tell, but even worse, you may
be thinking that you are the crazy one. Borderlines work hard to distort our reality
to make their reality feel safer.
So what is a borderline? Someone on the border of schizophrenia? NOT! Ask yourself
this: does your partner repeatedly accuse you of wanting to leave him/her? Does
your partner sometimes express a feeling of being totally unworthy to be with you,
while at other times brutalizing you to control you and keep you away from other
people? Borderlines have extreme and illogical sensitivities, sometimes connecting
the most minute observations with their intense fears that you'll abandon them.
Borderlines sometimes respond to these fears by becoming despondent; while at other
times they may react like narcissists, doing anything, including brutalizing their
own family, to erase a suggestion that they might be flawed. Borderlines move through
cycles lasting days or weeks that include periods of despondence, anger, and calm.
If you see this dynamic in your partner, family member, coworker, or friend, you
are very probably dealing with a borderline.
What is Borderline?
Meaning from Madness - Understanding the Hidden Patterns that Motivate Abusers: Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths
- Do you know what drives someone with borderline personality disorder? Did you know how much borderline personality disorder overlaps with
narcissism? This book explains the simple psychological driving force that defines these diseases,
the irrational actions of borderlines and narcissists, their treatment prospects, and the impact
of alcohol abuse. It explains the overlap/relationship of narcissism with borderline personality disorder and sociopathy.
More about this book.
Books are available in
packages at a savings.
You're not Crazy
For many of us, struggling to live with this kind of abusive partner, the first
handhold we need to grasp is that we are not
crazy. People who suffer from borderline personality disorder
have extreme emotions, which lead them to actions that can range from puzzling to
brutal. (People with narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder/sociopathy,
or alcoholism also exhibit this trait.) Living with them is painful and confusing.
Personality disorders are aptly named, because the minds of people who suffer from
these disorders work differently than healthy people.
They Spin our Reality: Disordered people can't deal with the reality of their behaviors.
On some level they realize how hurtful they are, yet accepting this major flaw in
themselves is just too painful. So disordered abusers spin our reality to make theirs
less painful. One of the most common defense mechanism they use is
projection. In projection, a characteristic of themselves that
they find just too painful to accept is projected
onto us. And the most frequently projected characteristic is mental illness. "I'm
not borderline. You're the crazy one." Another common and difficult defense mechanism
is blame shifting. It's your
fault this happened because blah, blah blah blah...
After a while it becomes hard to distinguish what is real from what is being projected
and what is being distorted. We begin to doubt our reality and question whether
we're the crazy ones, or whether our disordered SO's (significant others) are really
right about what they say.
The truth is, THEY'RE NOT RIGHT. But they feel better when they can get us to carry
the burden of their illness and their behavior.
What's more, disordered people hide their problems very effectively. People with
all of these personality disorders - borderline personality disorder, narcissistic
personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder - have serious maladjustments
in coping with life. Thus, they live in emotional turmoil. They seek to present
a very together appearance, hiding their disease from most people. It is only when
we get into a close and private relationship with someone with these personality
disorders that the abusive behavior comes out. And because their lives are wracked
with emotional turmoil, there is a lot of pent-up emotion that can be focused on
us. Yet those around us don't see it, causing us further confusion.
What is this Disease?
Borderline personality disorder is a "popular" disease. You'll find lots of web
pages with information about BPD. There are lists of criteria and there are descriptions
and checklists and anecdotal stories. After wading into this, you're positive that
you're dealing with BPD. Yet, the most common misunderstanding I encounter is people
who think they're significant other has BPD when in reality the problems they face
are more narcissistic.
The reality as I see it, is that people considered to be borderline and those considered
narcissistic are suffering from the same underlying disorder - a disorder based
in fear of others seeing flaws in them. The difference between these two "diagnoses"
is a different kind of coping. "Borderlines" cope poorly, falling into despondence,
suicide, substance abuse, and despair. These same people, at other times, will build
a functioning narcissistic defense.
In this mode, they rely on a stable predictable environment, limiting exposure to
new people, where they can perform flawlessly, do all the things they feel they're
expected to do, and keep their family "in line" so that they, too, exhibit no flaws.
People using a narcissistic defense appear "perfect" to work, community, and extended
family, but are brutal to the family in their own home. Borderlines respond to exposure
of a flaw with a loss of hope, while narcissists act with crushing brutality to
stabilize their defensive facade.
The insight I offer here is that people transition between these levels of defense.
At times in their lives they are able to maintain a stable narcissistic perimeter.
At other times, because of job changes, relationships changes, illness or other
uncontrollable changes, their perimeter breaks down, and they drop into a despairing
mode with behaviors that are more borderline. With time and support, they usually
rebuild a new narcissistic system.
Meanwhile, those of us living with these people endure verbal, emotional, sexual
and sometimes physical abuse, neglect of our needs that can be almost absolute,
and brutal controlling treatment that both impairs our ability to resist and clouds
our understanding of right and wrong and who is doing what to whom.
Stop the Abuse
Dealing with this situation is complex, and people need some idea of "What do I
do now that I know this?" For most people, there are important values, beliefs and
obligations that have to be carefully thought about. Because abuse is so damaging
to a relationship, significant decisions have to be faced, then resolved. My first
book, Tears & Healing, holds a light up in this dark place. Written
from the inside perspective of someone who has been through the hell of being emotionally
and verbally battered by a spouse, this book addresses the major issues that we
all must wrestle with.
Tears & Healing begins with the most difficult issue: abusive partners
constantly work to distort our perception of what is happening and what is right
and wrong, until we doubt our own judgment so much we can't make decisions. It then
addresses the process of detaching to find safe space and to regain a sense of right
and wrong, and searching to understand what we, as people, need in our lives - needs
that often must be simply put aside to survive in these brutal situations. It deals
with love, and the conflict of being in love with someone hurtful to us. And it
addresses the intense feelings of obligation that many of us have, which keep us
locked in situations that are beyond what any person should endure. Tears &
Healing is an intensely personal and validating guide through this maze
of thoughts and emotions. The reader reviews below can give you some sense of how
liberating Tears & Healing has been for many, many people.
On top of all this, dealing with feelings of love is a huge barrier for many. We
may know that a partner is very harmful to us, yet feelings of love may continue
to draw us back to that person. My book, In Love and Loving It - Or Not!
, addresses these issues. It explains how and why we fall in love; what we can do
to get out of love with someone hurtful to us; how we can make choices so we are
more likely to fall in love with someone good for us; and how being in love relates
to the different, chosen actions of loving. Many of the people I help to deal with
their abusive situations need this kind of guidance.
Are you in love with someone
In Love and Loving it - Or Not! - A User's Guide to Love and Being In-Love
explains not just why we fall in love, but why we fall in love with the
people we do, the difference between love and being in-love. You can't choose your
feelings, but you can set the stage for them to develop with a healthier,
happier person. This book explains how.
More about this book.
Get it in the
the Relationship Pack, or
the Big Storm Pack.
Books are available in
packages at a savings.
Selected pages from Meaning from Madness