, thanks for the callout. For some reason, I overlooked GoCubs' thread yesterday.
I thought she may have some BPD or some sort of manic bi-polar disorder.
GoCubs, I agree with Herschel and you that the behaviors you describe -- i.e., verbal abuse, controlling behavior, resentment of your two children, easily triggered temper tantrums, and always being "The Victim" -- are some of the classic warning signs for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Importantly, I'm not suggesting your W has full-blown BPD but, rather, that she may be exhibiting moderate to strong traits of it.
As to your W having bipolar
disorder, well, anything is possible. Having strong BPD traits does not rule out bipolar. Indeed, a 2008 study found that 41% of women diagnosed as having full-blown BPD also suffer from a co-occurring bipolar disorder. I note, however, that you don't seem to be describing bipolar symptoms in what you've written so far. If you're interested, I describe the differences I've seen between the typical behavior of a BPDer (my exW) and a bipolar-1 sufferer (my foster son) at 12 Bipolar/BPD Differences
[I am]walking on egg shells so she isnít getting all pissed.
If your W really is a BPDer (i.e., exhibits strong and persistent traits), that is exactly how you should be feeling. This is why the best-selling BPD book -- targeted to the abused partners -- is titled, Stop Walking on Eggshells
I tried to chalk it up with pregnancy hormones is the reason but this has went on long before the pregnancy on how she treats me.
In the general population, the vast majority of strong BPD behaviors are temporary flareups of the normally low BPD traits that we all exhibit. Those temporary flareups, which sometimes can last for a year or two, are usually caused by strong hormone changes -- e.g., by puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and perimenopause (i.e., by any life event starting with the letter "P," LOL). This likely is one of the reasons that @EleGirl
asked whether your W's bad behavior started with her current pregnancy. (The other common cause of these temporary BPD trait flareups is drug abuse, which you don't mention.)
I therefore am sorry to hear that your W's abusive behavior "went on long before the pregnancy." If your W really does exhibit the persistent, lifelong behavior pattern referred to as the BPD disorder itself, the BPD symptoms likely started showing strongly in the early teens and -- with the exception of your courtship period -- would have been persistent since then.
Those BPD traits likely would have disappeared entirely during the courtship period because her infatuation would have convinced her that you pose no threat whatsoever to her two great fears: abandonment and engulfment. As soon as her infatuation started to wane -- usually about 4 to 6 months into the close relationship -- those fears would have returned and you would have started triggering both of them.
Itís something with her in her core, not something I think she can change.
GoCubs, given your suspicions that your W exhibits strong and persistent BPD symptoms, I offer a few cautions. First
, if she really is a BPDer, she must have a strong fear of abandonment, which usually is most often manifested in behavior as an irrational jealousy. Significantly, you don't mention her being unreasonably jealous of your relationships or casual encounters with other women.
The closest thing you mention to a red flag for abandonment fear is her dislike and rudeness toward your own children. It is common for BPDers to become very jealous -- and thus resentful -- of substantial time that the partner spends with with his own family members or close friends. The BPDer misperceives it as you picking the children over her -- or as you choosing to live with her only because you need support for the kids.
Indeed, my BPDer exW was jealous of the closeness and intense love I had for her own children (i.e., my step kids). And she quickly grew to hate my adult foster son. An important issue, then, is whether you saw any more obvious signs that your W is jealous of other women or exhibits a strong fear that you may leave her. A second caution
is that BPDers are emotionally unstable
and thus typically alternate between pushing you away (by devaluing and belittling you) and pulling you back close (by loving or adoring you). Significantly, you don't mention seeing that regular cycle of push-away/pull-back behavior. I mention this because, if you are not seeing emotionally UNSTABLE behavior like that, you are NOT seeing a pattern of strong and persistent BPD behaviors. Stable abusive behavior -- i.e., where the spouse switches permanently to abusive behavior after the wedding -- is characteristic of narcissistic or sociopathic behavior, not BPD behavior.
This is not to say, however, that a BPDer will never reach the point of splitting you black (perceiving of you as "all bad") permanently. After a long period of alternating between perceiving of you as "all good" or "all bad," it is common for BPDers to eventually become so fearful of abandonment that they will perceive of their partners as "all bad" on a permanent basis. It is common, for example, for BPDers to describe all of their ex-partners as abusive and terrible people. A third caution
is that BPD is a "spectrum" disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether your W exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do.
Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits those traits at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper end of the BPD spectrum). Not having met her, I cannot answer that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are easy to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as very controlling behavior, always being "The Victim," and easily triggered temper tantrums. A fourth caution
is that, although it is easy to spot strong BPD symptoms, only a professional can determine whether they are so strong and persistent as to constitute full-blown BPD. Hence, you can easily spot a pattern of strong BPD traits but cannot diagnose your W's issue -- i.e., cannot determine whether she has the full-blown disorder. The main reason for learning BPD red flags, then -- like learning warning signs for stroke and heart attack -- is to help you and your kids avoid a very painful situation -- and to help you decide whether professional guidance is warranted. As @3Xnocharm
observes above, "The worst thing in all of this is the fact that she doesnt like your kids."
Sheís pretty much alienated herself from my family.
Likewise, my BPDer exW did the same. She was resentful of time I spent with my close friends and family members.
Itís like she has some resentment towards [my kids] because theyíre really good in sports etc and her kids arenít into sports and such.
Perhaps so. Yet, if she really is a BPDer, the resentment against your two kids most likely arises from a strong abandonment fear that distorts her perceptions of your intentions and motivations. As noted above, my exW was even resentful of my closeness to her own children -- even though she would have been just as resentful if I had not loved them and spent time with them.
I donít want these years to fly by and my kids resent me and their childhood because I choose to keep around the bad step mom.
My advice, GoCubs, is to see a psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you and your children are dealing with. I also suggest that, while you're looking for a good psych, you read about BPD warning signs to see if they seem to apply.
An easy place to start reading is my list of 18 BPD Warning Signs
. If most sound very familiar, I would suggest you read my more detailed description of them at my posts in Maybe's Thread
. If that description rings many bells and raises questions, I would be glad to join Herschel
, and the other respondents in discussing them with you. Take care, GoCubs.