My journey was not over once I broke up with my borderline lover (my "exBP") and mailed her the letter. I still had a lot of work to do on my own.
I continued in therapy, trying to learn why I had stayed in an abusive relationship for two years. I recognized that I had classic characteristics of co-dependency--for example, sacrificing my own needs in order to try to "save" the other person.
Several weeks after I mailed the letter, I stumbled across BPD Central on the web. I joined a nonBP Internet support group and became a frequent participant. I found this forum to be extremely helpful. One of the things I had been desperately seeking was validation. I had been feeling all alone. Here, amazingly, were a number of people who had all been in a similar situation. For the first time, I felt truly understood--in a way that my friends, family, and even therapist could not provide. I saw that my ex-borderline lover had suffered from a distinct syndrome--this helped me place in perspective what had happened to me.
For about a year after the breakup I suffered from mild post-traumatic stress disorder. My therapist referred me to a psychologist who taught me some self-hypnosis techniques to use when I found myself in "flashback" situations. This did help to some extent.
I was also very angry, for a long, long time. However, in retrospect, I think that a lot of that anger I felt was HEALTHY--as it steeled my resolve to NEVER become involved with this person again, despite her efforts to try to win me back. (Unfortunately we were forced to remain in contact as we were both members of the same organization. Even though we saw each other frequently, we did not speak--by my choosing.)
The anger did subside a bit, and I left the nonBP list, thinking it was time to move on. A full two years after the breakup, though, I became embroiled in a legal matter with my exBP.
This turn of events stirred up all those angry feelings again. I found myself extremely frustrated as she mounted her version of a "distortion campaign" against me. My emotions became so strong and out-of-control that my therapist briefly put me on medication, which helped.
The legal issue was eventually resolved in my favor, and I had the added benefit of not having to remain in contact with her. Another year or so went by. I went on with my life. I bought a house, began raising two beautiful cats, and continued to grow personally and professionally. However, I still did not feel ready for another relationship. My recovery was not yet 100% complete.
In June of 1999 (almost three years after the end of the relationship), I had the unexpected opportunity to attend a retreat in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, run by nonBPs for nonBPs. For some reason--I could not determine exactly why--I felt that I should attend this gathering. I THOUGHT I had worked through all the issues, but I guess I hadn't.
The last night of the retreat, I found myself with six or seven fellow attendees around a campfire. We smoked from an Indian peace pipe and took turns holding a "talking stick" and saying whatever was on our mind. During my turn with the "talking stick" I had an emotional breakdown of some sort. Or perhaps "break THROUGH" is a better word. I felt the last barriers standing in the way of my complete recovery come tumbling down. To this day I am not sure exactly how to describe that experience--except that it was a spiritual one, and once that final hurdle came down, I was able to move forward at last.
Two days later, I was involved in a car accident. My car was totaled but I walked away without a scratch. This event was like Part II of my spiritual rebirth. It had an almost surreal quality. I saw the wreck as a metaphor for my BP relationship. Even though there had been terrible damage, I emerged from both of them intact, with a newfound appreciation of what I DID have.
Three weeks later, I met the love of my life. We have now been together almost six years. Ours is a solid, loving relationship, with mutual respect and caring--completely unlike my former BP relationship. It is amazing how different things are now. For those of you who think you can never again be happy--think again. I am living proof that is IS possible to “rise from the ashes,” and live and love again.
Here is my best advice for those who have just left a relationship with a person with BPD, and do not wish to go back. Remember, this is from my own personal experience. This is not necessarily the best advice for everyone.
1) Get therapy. I cannot emphasize this enough.
2) Consider joining an online support group.
3) The borderline individual may try to “win you back.” The best way to combat this is to minimize contact as much as possible. If there is any way for you to break off ALL contact, do it. It may feel painful now, but you'll be a lot better off in the end. (Of course, this is not possible if there are children involved.)
4) Consider writing a letter to your ex. Sometimes writing things out helps you understand things better. You don’t necessarily have to mail it, as I did.
5) Be VERY careful about entering another relationship too soon.
There is a ton of information on BPD out there in cyberspace. Comprehensive listings may be found elsewhere. However, I would like to mention four sites which I find particularly noteworthy.
The 'original' site for people who care about someone with BPD. Sections on the basics of BPD, abuse, caring for yourself, and experiences of BPs and nonBPs. This site is run by Randi Kreger, the author of the indispensable (to Nons) book "Stop Walking On Eggshells."
Site run by a pair of Nons who wish to help others in their journey of healing. Many excellent articles in the Resource section.
Dr. Irene's Verbal Abuse Site
While not specifically about BPD per se, this site is a goldmine of information which would be helpful to any person who is experiencing verbal or emotional abuse.
of the Borderline Personality Disorder
Something different... In my opinion, the best presentation ever of the dynamics of BPD. The author hypothesizes that BPD is the result of the individual's somehow being "trapped" at the developmental stage of a child. This article really left an impression on me. It made a lot of what I had experienced easier to understand. Written in a non-judgemental tone, the article portrays the essential "humanness" of the borderline individual.