Jon, the behaviors you describe -- i.e., verbal and physical abuse, controlling behavior, easily triggered temper tantrums, drama seeking, lack of impulse control, low empathy, and always being "The Victim" -- are classic warning signs for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Importantly, I'm not suggesting your W has full-blown BPD but, rather, that she may exhibit moderate to strong traits of it.
I caution that BPD is not something a person "has" or "doesn't have." Instead, it 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 not difficult to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as always being "The Victim," lack of impulse control, and temper tantrums.
Originally Posted by Jonny Be Confused View Post
Tried to stab me once, tried to run a car into another car head on once, tried to hit me in the head with a stick once, Threw large items that could seriously hurt someone several times, grab a gun in a threatening manner once....
Intense, inappropriate anger is one of the nine defining traits for BPD. If your W is a BPDer (i.e., has strong BPD traits), she carries enormous anger inside from early childhood. You therefore don't have to do a thing to CREATE the anger. Rather, you only have to do or say some minor thing that TRIGGERS a release of the anger that is already there.
This is why a BPDer can burst into a rage in only ten seconds. Moreover, BPDers have very weak control over their emotions. Indeed, the key defining characteristic of BPD is the inability to regulate one's own emotions because a BPDer's emotional development typically is frozen at age 3 or 4. As @karole
stated, your W "like a toddler having tantrums" if she has strong BPD traits.
Because BPDers have little control over their emotions, the physical
abuse of a spouse or partner has been found to be strongly associated with BPD. One of the first studies showing that link is a 1993 hospital study of spousal batterers. It found that nearly all of them have a personality disorder and half of them have BPD. See Roger Melton's summary of that study at 50% of Batterers are BPDers
. Similarly, a 2008 study
and a 2012 study
find a strong association between violence and BPD.
We went on a dream vacation to a nice resort in the Bahamas and had a great time overall but about three days were terrible.
Likewise, my BPDer exW would sabotage several days of our most wonderful vacations. The reason is that, although BPDers crave intimacy just like nearly every adult does, they cannot tolerate it for very long because they quickly start to feel "controlled" and suffocated by your strong personality. Because BPDers have a weak, fragile sense of who they are, they quickly start to feel like they are losing themselves into the strong personalities of their partners.
The result is that it is common for BPDers to start the very WORST fights -- to push you away so as to give them breathing space -- immediately after the very BEST of times. My BPDer exW, for example, typically would start a fight -- over absolutely nothings at all -- right after a great weekend or intimate evening or in the middle of a great vacation.
She would proceed to tell me that I am a terrible husband, stupid, worthless, embarrassing to her.
If she is a BPDer (i.e., has strong BPD traits), this devaluation behavior is to be expected. Because BPDers are emotionally unstable, they will flip -- in only ten seconds -- between Jekyll (adoring you) and Hyde (devaluing, or even hating, you). As is true for very young children, BPDers don't see the middle ground between those polar extremes because they are too emotionally immature to handle ambiguities and strong conflicting feelings toward their loved ones. The resulting behavior is called "black-white thinking," which I describe at one of the links provided below.
[Marriage counseling] is something I am planning on suggesting.
If your W's BPD traits are at a low to moderate level, MC may prove helpful. If they are at a strong level, however, MC likely will be a total waste of time. Although many MCs are excellent at teaching simple communication skills, a BPDer's issues go far beyond the lack of such skills. When BPD traits are strong and persistent, what is needed is several years (at least) of intensive individual therapy to teach her the emotional skills she had no opportunity to learn in childhood. But, sadly, it is rare for a BPDer to be willing to work hard in such a therapy program.
What can someone do to fix this kind of problem or does it get to a point to where there is nothing that can fix it?
If she has strong and persistent BPD traits, she is the only person who can address it by learning how to manage those traits. Because that learning process is strictly an "inside job," there is nothing you can do to help her if she is not strongly self-motivated to work hard in therapy.
I therefore suggest you take a quick look at my list of 18 BPD Warning Signs
to see if most sound very familiar. If so, I would suggest you also read my more detailed description of them at my posts in Rebel's Thread
. If that description rings many bells, I would be glad to join the other respondents in discussing them with you.
I also would suggest you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you're dealing with. Importantly, this should be a psychologist who has never treated or seen your W. That way, you are assured he is ethically bound to protect only YOUR best interests, not hers.
Significantly, learning to spot these warning signs will NOT enable you to diagnose your exGF's issues. Only a professional can do that. Yet, like learning warning signs for stroke and heart attack, learning those for BPD may help you avoid prolonging a very painful situation. Take care, Jon.