When Someone You Love Suffers From Borderline Personality Disorder: 10 Ways to Work Through The Guilt You Feel

 / 

,
Borderline Personality Disorder: Ways To Deal With BPD Guilt

Loving someone with borderline personality disorder can feel exhausting sometimes. And then comes the guilt. So what is this connection between borderline personality disorder and the guilt you feel? This article is going to focus on the connection between BPD and guilt, and why you feel the latter.

Your phone rings; you look down and her name appears on your screen. Sadly, you dread clicking over…and then comes the guilt.

Your history with her rushes into your mind as you wait for one more ring. You’re reminded of all the times that you’ve rushed to her side, comforted her, and told her you’d be there for her, while realizing over time that your caring would never be enough to shore up her fragile self-worth.

Or you think of how you’ve watched as she’s made one impulsive choice after another while blaming others, including you, for the chaos of her life. You’ve had to set boundaries against which she constantly pushes, ultimately accusing you of not caring when she senses your fatigue.

Perhaps you’ve heard thinly veiled hints of self-harm, followed by admonitions that she doesn’t know how long she can continue like this. Maybe there are sudden, unexplainable times when you’ve felt that your love for her was reciprocated in an intense, almost intoxicating way.

Related: 7 Most Common Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Yet almost as quickly as it arrives, that warm glow disappears in a cloud of sudden anger or irrational disappointment.

Even more confusing is that others who know her in the community may adore her. They haven’t a clue how draining a closer relationship can be and would find your reality nearly unbelievable — as she can often be quite popular and well-loved by coworkers, neighbors, and even strangers.

Structure offers her a scaffolding, a role to play, and if she’s the teacher or the supervisor, she can shine. But she lacks the empathy needed for closer, more intimate relationships.

They don’t know she has borderline personality disorder.

No matter who she is, whether she’s your mom, your sister, your partner, your friend… you can become exhausted. Your own guilt can be unrelenting, and she may not have the capacity – and certainly not the insight – into understanding her impact on you or others.

What guilt sounds like inside your head…

“She’s my mother — she raised me the best way she could. I owe her.”

“She’s my daughter… I’ll never forget the day I saw her for the first time. So tiny, so trusting. She deserves the same kind of relationship I have with the other kids.” But you know in your gut she’s different than your other children.

“She’s my wife and I vowed to be there for her. She was different back then; this side of her was hidden. Plus she’s the kids’ mom and in a way, I still love her.”

“Even though she’s my ex, I don’t know how she’d treat the kids if she felt like I wasn’t there for her. She flipped out when we got divorced. I can’t totally abandon her, ever. It’s wreaking havoc between me and my now wife, who, of course, she detests.”

“She was my best friend when no one else would talk to me in eighth grade. She was there, always. So why do I shudder at the thought of simply talking with her now?”

Guilt. Guilt. And more guilt.

The emotional kaleidoscope of borderline personality disorder…

In I Hate You Don’t Leave Me, the classic book on borderline personality disorder, the authors state, “The borderline shifts her personality like a rotating kaleidoscope, rearranging the fragmented glass of her being into different formations… Like a chameleon, (she) transforms herself into any shape that she imagines will please the viewer.”

Her emotions govern all her actions. She’s terrified of abandonment and highly sensitive to not feeling understood.

I suspect I have someone with borderline traits in therapy when, after only after one or two sessions, I hear something along the lines of, “I’ve never felt this understood by anyone before.”

She puts me on a pedestal in order to bond with me, as she tries unconsciously to figure out my own vulnerabilities.

In fact, it can be uncanny how well someone with borderline traits can assess your own internal struggles — and use those very issues to manipulate you.

For example, if you’re someone who takes responsibility for your actions very seriously, she may subtly or not so subtly insinuate you’re falling down on the job or question whether you know what you’re doing.

Not all people with borderline traits threaten suicide consistently or have intense rage reactions. There are several “types,” some who are quieter, less dramatic versions of the disorder, but all cause tremendous problems in intimate relationships.

Related: Raised By A Borderline Mother: Signs, Types, Effects, And How To Deal

Living with borderline personality disorder…

I want to stress this point. Living with an emotional hurricane inside of you day in and day out is no party. Having borderline personality disorder can be an agonizing existence.

There’s often a chaotic and abusive childhood history. Unrecognized and untreated, it can lead to a miserable life, as one by one, she wears out the people who are trying to love or help her.

It is difficult to treat, but there are therapeutic techniques that have been shown to work well, DBT or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy being chief among them.

As someone who’s lived and tried to love someone with this struggle. you can only be responsible for that which you can control. You’ve tried multiple times to get your loved one help — and she stops taking her meds.

Or she gets involved with another bad relationship. Or she won’t return your texts, after she’s threatened suicide one more time. Perhaps she denies she has a problem at all, pointing the finger at you and stating you’re not trying hard enough at the relationship.

9 steps to minimize guilt

In order to let go of the guilt, I’m offering nine concrete steps you can take. They’re simple for me to write, but difficult to do.

  • Face the fear of your own helplessness in this relationship by predicting the most feared outcome (most likely suicide or some kind of highly dramatic action) and decide how you would handle it.
  • Assess whether or not her capability of physically hurting you is rational. If it is, seek advice from a lawyer or, in an emergency, the mental health emergency services in your area.
  • Objectively see the damage caused to you and to other family members. Journal about it and see how your writing and acknowledgment may influence your future actions. try to see your own relationship like you would see someone else’s
  • Give her back the responsibility for her own life, knowing she’ll never give you permission to change the relationship. For example, when she calls with another crisis, say, “I know you’ll find a way to cope with this.” And get off the phone.
  • Provide empathy but not sympathy. Set up strict boundaries for communication and then be available if she follows those guidelines (Her reaction may initially be to escalate. But give her time.)
  • Give her sincere feedback about the positives in the relationship and what you appreciate about her.
  • Grieve the relationship that could have been; acknowledge and feel the pain of that loss. Again, journaling can be very helpful here.

Related: Loving Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Realize she may never have the capacity of understanding the impact she’s having on you or your family. She’s not withholding something from you; she’s likely not capable of giving it. So, if you stop expecting that understanding, perhaps you won’t get hurt.
  • Get support from others who understand or have walked the same walk.
  • And perhaps the most important, have compassion for yourself.

Check out Dr. Margaret’s Tedx Talk on YouTube, and also don’t forget to tune into her beloved podcast, The Self Work Podcast.


Written By Dr. Margaret Rutherford  
Originally Appeared On Dr. Margaret Rutherford
borderline personality disorder and guilt

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

JOMO Vs FOMO: How to Stop Worrying About Missing Out And Start Enjoying the Present

JOMO Vs FOMO: Benefits And Disadvantages To Know

Are you ready to explore the psychological battle of JOMO VS FOMO? We’ll be diving into the two sides of social connectivity and the importance of solitude.

Ever hopped on your phone and instantly felt envy? You scroll through your social media feeds and see friends having the time of their lives, while you sit at home doing nothing.

It’s what psychologists call FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out), a condition many people are familiar with in our age of smartphones. But could there be a healthier alternative? Say hello to JOMO (the Joy Of Missing Out).

What Is JOMO vs FOMO



Up Next

10 Best Things To Do To Sleep Better At Night: Unlocking Restful Nights

Best Things To Do To Sleep Better At Night

Tossing and turning, struggling to catch those elusive Zs? We’ve all been there. We have a long day at work, come back home, have dinner and can’t wait to go to bed. But where is sleep? It just doesn’t seem to come, does it? Today, we are going to talk about some of the best things to do to sleep better, my sleep-deprived friend.

This article is going to help you incorporate some really good habits for sleeping, and a good night’s sleep won’t just be a distant wish, but a tangible reality. From soothing bedtime rituals to the secrets of a sleep-friendly environment, we’ll dive headfirst into the realm of restful nights.

So grab your comfiest pyjamas, fluff up those pillows, and explore some of the best things to do to sleep better.



Up Next

What’s So Great About Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? 7 Reasons

ACT is rapidly growing in influence and popularity, and has been found to be at least as effective as CBT.

Do you know about Acceptance and Commitment therapy, and how it’s fast-growing popularity says that it might be as effective as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy? This article is going to talk about the reasons why Acceptance Commitment therapy is being considered to be a great form of therapy, and what it’s all about.

KEY POINTS

ACT is rapidly growing in influence and popularity, and has been found to be at least as effective as CBT.

ACT is an evidence-based intervention that successfully integrates ancient wisdom.

Instead of trying to convince the mind to think other kinds



Up Next

How To Spend Me Time? 8 Best Ways To Make The Most Of Your Solitude

How To Spend Me Time? Best Ways To Make The Most Of It

We all know that life can get pretty hectic sometimes, with deadlines to meet, errands to run, and a never-ending to-do list. But in the midst of all the chaos, it’s really important for you to carve out some “me-time” to recharge your batteries and reconnect with yourself. So, how to spend me time, and make the most of your precious moments alone?

Well, this article is going to explore some of the best me time ideas, and how you can have an amazing time by yourself. So, are you ready to figure out what to do so that you can make the most of your alone time? Let’s get started.

Related: 10 Things That Make An Intr



Up Next

Are You Scared Of Ghosts? What Is Phasmophobia And How To Conquer Your Ghostly Fears

What Is Phasmophobia and How to Overcome Ghostly Terrors

Are you afraid of being alone in the darkness? Do unexplained noises or eerie surroundings send shivers down your spine? Are you scared of ghosts? If so, you may be experiencing phasmophobia. What is phasmophobia, you ask? Let’s find out.

Emily woke up in the middle of the night and looked directly at the dark corner of her room. As a battle raged on between curiosity and fear, Emily kept staring into the darkness. 

When the floorboard creaked menacingly, she jumped out of her bed and ran out of the bedroom. Little did she know that the culprit wasn’t hiding within the darkness, but in the darkest recess of her own mind. Her own fear of ghosts – phasmophobia. 

Today, we will delve into the depths of phasmophobia, an intense and irrational fear of ghosts, exp



Up Next

Compulsive Pulling, Picking, Biting: The What, Why, and How of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Tips For Overcoming Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Do you tend to bite your nails often? Do you have a habit of pulling your hair without even realizing it? Engaging in such repetitive behaviors that seem beyond your control can be a sign of body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). So, are there any self-help tips for overcoming body focused repetitive behaviors?

Yes. Most of us frequently pick at our skin, pull our hair, bite our nails without being aware of it. While such habits can seem harmless at a glance, when it becomes uncontrollable and left unaddressed, body focused repetitive behaviors can seriously affect our mental health and quality of life.

Although such behaviors can be challenging and distressing, there are ways to overcome it. Let’s explore this complex and often misunderstood phenomenon, exploring what are body focused repetitive behaviors, its roots, i



Up Next

How To Let Go Of Grudges And Live Freely

How To Let Go Of Grudges And Live Freely

Have you ever found yourself trapped in a web of negative emotions, unable to move forward due to a lingering grudge? Holding grudges can be like carrying a heavy burden on your shoulders, weighing you down and preventing you from experiencing true happiness and peace. So how to let go of grudges?

Today, we will explore the art of letting go and provide you with practical strategies to release the shackles of resentment. So, if you’re ready to embark on a journey of emotional freedom, read on and discover how to let go of grudges once and for all.

Understanding the Meaning of Holding Grudges

Holding a grudge refers to harboring persistent feelings of anger,