Originally Posted by EllaSuaveterre View Post
I see a lot of posts- and occasionally even whole threads, on TAM or LoveShack or SurvivingInfidelity about "Cluster B" personality disordered people, particularly Borderline personality disorder. Especially in cases where the BPD-afflicted person is a WS, the advice ranges from "Dump them immediately" to "Lock them up. Cluster-B people can't love."
Now, I'm not going to argue whether cluster-B people cannot love or feel empathy. Because I don't know. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm also a Wayward Wife. I don't know if my capacity to love or to empathize with other people is as strong as everyone else's. But I will tell you that I want to love and be loved with all my heart, and I think I can safely speak for most other Borderlines and say they want the same. At its core, from what I've learned in DBT (the therapy for BPD, which I've been in since my A in 2014) BPD is a fear of abandonment. A fear of being left alone and having to look after and/or put up with yourself.
The stereotypical picture of the Borderline Wayward is someone who doesn't give a rat's tail about anyone but themselves, has no idea how to love or feel anything but rage and contempt, and will burn you in your bed for looking at them the wrong way.
I'm not like that. I get angry and have vindictive feelings more often than most, but I never act on them. The only person I ever take my anger and pain out on is myself. If somebody leaves me or slights me, I will probably be angry for a few weeks and grieved for a few months, but the only person I ever truly blame for their absence is myself. I've struggled with self-harm, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and generally non-existent self-esteem. I couldn't hurt anyone who would, in my mind, lessen their quality of life by loving me. Not knowingly anyway.
During my A, I was not maniacally laughing and saying, "I'm going to ruin my husband's life! He'll never know what hit him! He deserves to be so miserable! Muahahahaha!!!" No way. I hated myself. I hated what I (at the time felt I) was being forced to do. I felt I had little to no agency in ending the affair. I genuinely felt my husband would be better off if I left him and/or died, both of which would have eventually happened if the A continued.
And I only chose to start the affair because I was afraid my husband was going to leave me and I couldn't bear to be alone.
Why did I think he was going to leave me? Because I hated myself. Why on earth wouldn't he hate me too? The OM was abusive, but I didn't see it as abuse at the time. I thought the OM knew how horrible I was and was only treating me like I deserved. Any kindness was too good to be real. My H would be better off if the OM murdered me. At least I'd be out of his hair.
For the entire first year post-A, I was too wrapped up in healing from the anxiety and depression the A gave me (I'm aware that sounds horrible to say) and for the second year, I am truly ashamed to admit I didn't classify what I had done as infidelity because OM was abusive. Now, as of about July of this year, I have started reading and understanding more about what I did to my BH and how I can help him.
Now that I've read "Who Will You Become", "How to Help your Spouse Heal From Your Affair", and "Not Just Friends", I have realized that I, in spite of being abused myself, also abused my poor, undeserving, gentle husband. I could have ended the affair- abuse or not, mortal terror or not- at any time, and I chose not to. My beloved BH didn't ask for any of this. I did. I have come to realize how utterly misguided it was to think that an exit affair would leave him without hurt feelings and/or with a sense of relief that I was gone. A WS can be the most vile piece of hot garbage in the world, and an A can and likely will still leave the BS with severe trauma that is equivalent to a soldier's battlefield PTSD. Now that I know that, I absolutely despise myself for having hurt my BS like that. It's been a serious struggle not to relapse into self-harm or anorexia in order to numb the self-loathing. But so far I've done it.
So far, I think I've done okay at listening to my BH's needs, making time to romance him and/or be with him, talking with him regularly and helping him process, and reading the aforementioned books with him. He says he trusts me completely, I've not seen him trigger too much, and he says he forgives me. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to him, help him process, help him through triggers if he gets them, and keep my finger on the pulse of his moods and needs.
I still get flashbacks and triggers of my own regarding the A and the OM on occasion (I can't walk past someone who resembles him without wanting to be sick) and I still, very very often, have almost unbearable episodes of self-hatred. But I destroyed my BH's whole life, and I deserve the self-hatred for a good long while.
This got really vent-y, sidetracked, and long, but the point is that I, and other Borderlines and Cluster Bs, want to learn to love the people in their lives. We want to stop hurting others. We want to help our BSs. We want to learn how to accept love. We don't mean to be monsters, and we're very, very sorry.
what you just stated mirror exactly what my wife has said before. She hates herself because she keeps making bad decisions despite logically knowing better. or at least, she used to. nowadays, it is infrequent that she does anything destructive.
she identifies with the disney character stitch. at one point, lilo draws a picture of him and fills it in with either blue or red, depending on how bad or good stitch is. lilo keeps trying to tell stitch that even though he does bad things sometimes, he is still good over all. he does enough good to still be considered good. well, when stitch has a problem that causes him to act out with destructive behavior, stitch takes the drawing and erases all the blue and fills it in with red. he judges himself far more harshly than lilo does.
in the story, stitch had a problem that he had no control of. but in real life, my wife often felt like she had no control over her own actions. she would feel overwhelmed by emotion and acted out of them, desperately trying to feel better, safer, more secure. the idea of choosing to act despite the emotions was a foreign concept to her. it would be fake, mocking.
the thing is though, she never really felt safe and loved. she couldn't accept that anyone else could love her because she saw herself as bad. it took me a while to find a way to let her know that i don't love her for who she is. i love her because its who i am.
at first, she didn't like that. it meant that there was nothing special about her that caused me to love her. at the same time, she has started to realize that she cant be "too bad". i don't love her because she is good or bad. i love her because i choose to.
but, i also want her to love herself, so i find ways to motivate her with "rewards" and "punishments" in order to get her to do things that SHE can be proud of. hence our dynamic.
they say that BPD is basically having the emotional age of a child. if people can accept that and treat them the way they would an actual child, then living with them becomes no more difficult than raising a child. it also comes with all the fulfillment of raising a child. many of the same challenges and rewards.
if your husband is anything like me, then the best thing you can do for him is to learn to do good things despite how you feel. because if you can show that you can choose to do good things despite how you feel, you can become someone you can be proud of. you can love yourself. and if you can love yourself, then your husband wont ever have to worry about you. he will be free to just love you and enjoy your company.