This guest post was written by Clair Happer, all views expressed are a personal view of BPD and Recovery and in no way should be considered professional advice. If you disagree with anything in this post, or have your own thoughts do let her know in the comments below. For all other questions and issues relating to BPD do use the Contact Us page. Take it away Clair…
I have been spending a lot of time working on myself, my relationship and my family. As I have gone through the process of learning all about my disorders, and reaching out to others having or living with those who have them I, as perhaps many of you have, became more aware of my own issues and overanalyzed myself. This actually began to cause more issues for me, as I would become more frustrated with my own struggles, as well as more sensitive to the struggles of those around me. My home life, and the very things I was trying to improve for myself and my family, as well as share with others, fell behind. The revolving cycle of working to recognize my issues, to do the work to change and heal and then becoming frustrated with myself as well as my issues was becoming exhausting I knew taking a break was necessary. My break was able to give me perspective, remove some of my anxiety and negativity, and focus on what I wanted to achieve in my life.
Now I am ready to share some of my new perspectives, tools, and thoughts. The biggest, and hardest topic often asked about is the affair I was involved in, recovering from it etc. This one has been difficult for me to approach as it not only affects me but my husband and our family as well. So I will try to cover as much as I can while being mindful of the feelings of others in my life. To be completely honest we are still working our way through the recovery process, and so it is still very sensitive to both my husband and me.
My having emotional regulation issues while trying to recover from a traumatic experience caused by myself has been a very tricky matter. The recovery process has triggered feelings of anger towards myself, as well as feelings of, guilt, regret, sadness, confusion about the reasons and the issues creating the problem, distrust of my own judgment and the list goes on. Some have asked how I deal with those feelings, how I move past them, how I even work on my relationship. Well, it has been a long process making something that is already difficult for my husband, even harder as I would get triggered and react negatively at the worst possible moments. Here are some of the things I have learned so far;
1) Honesty, Truth is truly number one; People having BPD are often labelled manipulators or liars, perhaps some are, though I feel this falls under; those who have BPD are still people and they bring their own issues into the disorders as well. Another point to look at is the fear of loss factor, those suffering BPD fear perceived losses, rejection, punishment often pushing them to “cover” or “hide” the facts out of fear. It is almost a knee-jerk reaction with no thought attached, and the worst possible way to begin trying to recover from an affair. The most important place to start is with 100% honesty, no falsities, no sparing the person involved, just truth. Don’t embellish, or say what you think the other person wants to hear. It goes without saying that the affair must be over, and the affair person gone from your life for anything to ever work. Anything and everything involved in that period of time must be gone and done as well.
2) Commitment; to the long road ahead, to building a safe atmosphere, and owning your actions. Be open and honest to a fault every single day. Another area is give up all internet passwords, e-mails, your cell, bills, everything needs to be an open book. While you are out be aware of your time, check in, and leave no time unaccounted for. If you truly want your relationship to work the recovery is truly on you. As the ones that broke the trust we must be the ones to restore it, at this point there is little room for error and your partner needs to know they are safe.
3) Own your behaviour and take responsibility. Regardless of the type of relationship you had, no matter what issues you’ve dealt with, blame is not going to help at any point. If you want to make things work its so important to be willing and able to admit you were wrong, and the courage to say “This is on me, and I messed up”. In order for the relationship to have a fighting chance its important to come clean, accept your part and own up to your behaviour.
4) Active Listening and Validation; Stop reacting before it’s too late, I have learned to recognize my stopping point before I blow up. For me, when my feelings get hurt, when I am afraid, when I feel attacked, I tend to lash out. The process of recovery is so much less about me, and so much more about the person who I hurt. As we have worked through issues I have had to ask for a time out, or say “This made me feel feeling here, and I need to take a few minutes”, or simply just acknowledge what your partner is feeling. Remember that validating doesn’t mean that you agree, or that you like what the other person is saying, doing, or feeling. Remember to be patient and check in with your partner often.
5) Self Forgiveness and Sincere Apologies; Forgive yourself and accept what you have done. We cannot heal unless we are willing and able to see what we have done, and to be accountable for the things we have done, problems we have caused, and why we are struggling through issues we now face in our relationship. That being said being able to accept it means you also have to move past it yourself for the relationship to ever be able to heal as well. Recognize your failings and begin to rebuild and take action toward a positive future. Sincerely apologize to your partner, be empathetic to their pain and struggle (this is not a time to focus on how their pain is affecting you). Let your partner know you are committed to the process. Recognize that you can never go back to what you had, but if you do your part you can rebuild and possibly have a stronger, better relationship in the future.