You've read the vitriol on the Internet--you may have even participated in it yourself. Here are some quotes from people who are leaving relationships:
"These people (with BPD) are emotional vampires.”
"They are all the same, they suck us dry, we are only supply to them, then they move on to another innocent victim.”
"They are all evil, pure evil.”
"They hunt for their marks, good and giving people like us, and then they strike.”
"Watch out, they will suck you back into the relationship - no matter how hard you try to get away.”
First of all, is this accurate? No. All these accusations assume an intent on the person with BPD, as if they plotted and planned to get people they love, bond with and form an attachment to to leave them.
Hello? The most distinguishable BPD trait is fear of abandonment. And the central irony in BPD/non-BPD partnerships is that people with BPD don’t want people to leave them, yet they act in ways that make people do just that.
Secondly, are letting statements like that simmering around in your brain for weeks, months, and years helpful to you? When does venting and resentment turn into dysfunctional coping that is detrimental to our healing? Will making generalizations and demeaning the person who hurt you help us recover? We bash them, feel disgust for them, feel hatred or look down in pity. We may even wish them harm or lash out to hurt them or their reputation.
The problem for us is that we create a dysfunctional and false reality to sooth our pain. And in doing so we cling to a futile need to be right or be superior, which overrides our capacity to heal and to make healthy changes in our life--usually because we don't know any other way to come to grips with the painful feelings of hurt, rejection, and abandonment.
Healthy Grieving We all know that it is important that we grieve the end (death) of these relationships. The grieving cycle, according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The duration, order, and a degree of each stage varies with the individuals.
Dysfunctional Resentment: Resentment is a mental process in which we repeatedly replay a feeling and the events leading up to that feeling that angers us. With resentment, we re-experience and relive events in ways that affect us mentally, emotionally, physiologically and spiritually in destructive ways. Resentment happens when we feel what people did to us that was unnecessarily hurtful, mean, disrespectful, or humiliating.
A man on WTOStaying says:
I would like a call for empathy for those who have BPD. First, a disclaimer: I am in no way excusing the actions of those who have BPD. Have said that, I would like people to have a bit more empathy towards those who suffer from this disease. People that have BPD do suffer, even the high functioning ones who don't show it or acknowledge it themselves or others. They are in constant hell and they can't walk away from it. Whether nons want to see it or not, they have a choice not to be involved with BPD, the ones that have it, don't. They have choices to manage it, but not walk away from it.
The one other point is that we ALL have character flaws, and when you or other loved ones say they are nothing but hateful spiteful or manipulative, though they may have created actions to cause these feeling, we are not one to throw stones because in some way, we all have caused some harm to someone else. You may not think so right off, but think about it: a bad business deal, trouble with addiction, infidelity, hurtful words, something.Others just might say the same about us.
Resentments are often justified--but are they helpful?
The staff at BPDFamily.com and I have had the opportunity to watch thousands of people process the failure of a BPD relationship and clearly, those that exhibit the most vitriol and resentment are the last to heal --if they heal at all.
Let’s face it, the hallmark of a borderline personality disorder relationship is emotional immaturity by both partners. The idea that one partner was healthy (loving and giving) and the other partner was dysfunctional is seriously flawed. BPD is a real mental illness and a person with this disorder will have a history of failed relationships.
However, emotionally mature and grounded people do not get into such relationships. Even if they accidentally fall into one, they reassess their decision process and values, make changes, and do not get caught up in extended makeup/breakup cycles and come back time and time again.
When we are caught up in the resentment, it obscures both our vision and motivation to identify and resolve the issues that plagued us in the relationship, such as selecting emotionally impaired partners; confusing sex with love or even things like our own issues, such as codependency.
According to Mark Sichel, L.C.S.W., a fellow Psychology Today blogger, holding resentments is a choice. Ask yourself, are you making the healthy choice? If you are angry, is it healthy anger or unhealthy anger?
In this blog post, he gives 10 steps to letting go of resentment:
1. Approach resentment as the addictive state of mind it is.
2. Realize that you are using resentment to replicate old dramas and acknowledge that you cannot change the past.
3. Examine how your resentment may come from mentally confusing people in your present life with people in your past.
4. Acknowledge that you cannot control those who have rejected you.
5. Recognize that your resentment gives you only illusions of strength. Instead, highlight and validate your real strength and power.
6. Learn to identify signals that provoke resentment. Apply the acronym HALT, widely used in 12 Step Programs: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.
7. Practice cognitive behavioral techniques to stop indulging in resentment. Put a thought between your feelings of resentment and indulging in ruminating about them.
8. Acknowledge your part in allowing the abuse to occur, forgive yourself for that and make a decision to not let it occur again.
9. Declare an amnesty with the person you resent and with yourself.
10. Forgive when you can (that doesn't mean you have to forget), and practice willful and deliberate forgetfulness when you cannot, keeping in mind that these acts are gifts to yourself rather than capitulation to the people you resent.
By Skip of BPDFamily.com and Randi Kreger
Copyright © 2015, Randi Kreger. This post (or any part of it) may not be reproduced without prior written permission.
Randi Kreger is the owner of BPDCentral.com and the Welcome to Oz online family community. You can find her books "The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder," "The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook," "Stop Walking on Eggshells," and "Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist," at her store at BPDCentral.com.