When I met my wife in early 1999 I knew she was the one. I have attempted to explain her in many ways, but what initially drew me to her probably describes her best.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
My wife had some real pain in her life as well. I can remember saying things like "You set the mood for the house" or another favorite was "You need to work through this depression so we can communicate." Not real proud of that folks. I would overpower her and after a few years she just quit arguing back...truly her problem and not mine. Well that thought is an example of the fine line between reality and fantasy I weave in between. While there was a glimmer of truth in her need to get some help...and if Momma ain't happy nobody's happy...yet whose job was it to create a safe place for her to do that and the support to help her realize who she was. That was on me and I had failed her.
Thursday Sept. 25th Michele came home from her own therapy appointment. I asked how it had gone, what they had talked about. We had discussed that she would primarily be talking about my new found diagnosis and about some material she had researched.
As we began talking I started feeling those old waves of fear and anger. I would focus on comments like "The book I read says its hard to be married to someone with BPD...but with help we can make it." Immediately I took that to mean "We should separate" not literally but again it touched that 4 year old child inside of me. And he was scared. I wanted to immediately look at her issues and the fact I stayed with her and what Therapist would suggest divorce?
That's the world I live in. Anything that hits that abandonment feeling, real OR perceived causes these waves of emotion that I can't control. These same fears have made employment almost impossible.
To my credit, I stayed calm and waited for a moment to share this illustration with her. She smiled and said there was nothing intended to make me feel that way. She said I did need to hear the things she needed to say. There was no way I was getting rid of her. I finally was going to have that deep intimate sharing with my wife yet it was going to be about my FAILURES and that was hard.
I asked if I could read her note book first so I could be prepared. She had found a site that had an ebook on the affect on loved ones. It's called "Stop Waling on Eggshells" and from what little I saw it looks great!
The first sentence I read was
You need to reassure the person with BPD that you understand they are not angry but actually scared during these moments.
The tears started immediately. I mean intense sobbing. It prepared me for the next part. She had written 6 ways my behavior "looked" to her. As bright as she is:-) these came from the book and are applicable to all BPD's. I was textbook on 5 of the 6 and the 6th simply wasn't applicable.
1- Do you find yourself concealing what you think or feel because you are afraid of the other person's reaction and/or it doesn't seem worth the fight or emotions after? YES
2- Do you feel what you say will be twisted or used against you? YES
3- Are you afraid to ask for things in the relationship because you will be told you are too demanding or that there is something wrong with you? Do you feel that your needs are not important? Isn't very easy to figure out. Part of my wife's issues are her inability to speak up for herself and I think most people that know me would say I am pretty cognitive of others needs...what I would say is that can be situational and if it affects my own needs it may apply.
4- Does the other person degenerate or deny your point of view? Do you feel their expectations are constantly changing so you can never do anything right? YES and this is one that affects my kids.
5- Are you accused of saying or doing things you didn't? Do you feel misunderstood and when you try to explain do you find that the other person doesn't believe you? YES
6- Do you make excuses for their behavior and try to convince yourself they are Ok? YES
Not the most flattering picture. I resisted the temptation to make this about her. I decided I needed to be heard though. Now here is where I feel like God intervened. I read #1 out loud. Instead of making excuses and defending myself I heard me say "I do that." As I read them all out loud the tears were flowing again and I had to admit I was guilty of all of these.
She held me as I sobbed. She whispered softly, "I love you Michael Johnson" which just made me cry more. She then went on to say that her initial reaction was joy, that she wasn't a "bad" person, that her feelings had some validation. For any of you game players out there...she basically "leveled up" in front of my eyes. She reassured me that she would never leave me that she needed me as much as I needed her.
My marriage had been the one rock in my life. Our marriage had begun to improve in 2009 after some therapy. It continued to grow, stagnated some when I went back to the professional world. About a year ago we had some more growth and in July I had started to see that I needed to help Michele find herself. Discover who she is. We went through a week long exercise on intimacy about a week before my diagnosis and that had really intensified our relationship.
Over the next few days I struggled as I thought about some things in our marriage I had said or done. I saw now what everyone had been trying to tell me when they said I had the perfect wife. Now I must allow her to fly.