Yesterday, Mother’s Day, was “like eating a bad meal,” Bobby said. “The bad taste just lingers on and on.” It’s not just that one day particular day each year either, but all the ruined holidays and trips over the last fifteen years that float the the surface weighing so heavily upon him today, the day after. For Bobby, it feels like his tiny piece of the universe is being torn apart, like documents going through a paper shredder. He said that it takes several days to return to something less disturbed, and life really isn’t normal–ever.
The way Bobby describes it, the rage in his wife erupts like a volcano, spewing fire and sulfur and lava on anyone foolish enough to be in the path. “The rage attacks come upon her out of nowhere, without provocation,” he said. It reminds him of King Saul:
The next day an evil spirit sent from God took control of Saul, and he began to rave inside the palace. David was playing the lyre as usual, but Saul was holding a spear, and he threw it, thinking, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David got away from him twice. 1 Samual 18:10
For Bobby, appeasement is the lyre (harp) he plays attempting to sooth his disquieted wife. And just like in this story of King Saul’s raving, the soothing music of the lyre or appeasement isn’t enough. “There are times when I bite my tongue and don’t say anything, just ignore the outbursts, and eventually, like air released from a deflating balloon, they are over. “Mother’s Day,” Bobby said, “turned into one of the times that when the fire directed at me didn’t burn too badly, but was redirected to our child.”
Later in the day, Bobby’s wife’s rage deflated, they sat at the dinner table. The two wounded souls who’d barely survived the flames of rage a few hours earlier, and still reeling from the outbursts, sat amazed when she began to talk about going on a family vacation. “No way I’m going,” Bobby said he’d thought to himself. “But I know I’ll do exactly what she wants, regardless of having the money to do it, or my wanting to do it.”
Bobby’s wife is one of over six million Americans that exhibit signs of what is called Borderline Personality Disorder. According to a U.S. government website, “Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. Because some people with severe BPD have brief psychotic episodes, experts originally thought of this illness as atypical, or borderline, versions of other mental disorders. While mental health experts now generally agree that the name “borderline personality disorder” is misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.”
There are some psychiatric professionals who believe that BPD is a biological condition, and as such can be “cured” with drugs. Others professionals believe it has its roots in early childhood, and can only be somewhat alleviated by behavioral-modification therapy.
From Bobby’s experience with his wife, and his mother who he believes suffered similarly, the BPD may be somewhat controlled by behavioral conditioning, but it’s like the joke “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.” In Bobby’s case, his wife doesn’t see anything wrong with raging to get what she wants. “On too many occasions,” Bobby said, “my wife has put it this way: “You make me act this way because you don’t do what you need to do!”
People who are in relationships with BPDs are often referred to as “Nons.” There is one online forum that once spoke of the metaphor of being in the Land of Oz as living with a BPD, and getting back to Kansas, in which the Non is in control of his or her life. In Oz, the BPD is the pitiful little man behind the curtain, and the Non is deluded enough to follow the instructions of the wizard.
Even after becoming aware that he was living in Oz, getting back to Kansas is proving difficult. “I got out several times,” Bobby said, “but was Hoovered back.” Hoovered is the term used by Nons when they are pulled back into these destructive relationships. A BPD can be sweet, endearing, especially when in a position to lose their prey, a husband or wife. When the rage is over, when they’ve successfully wounded their lover, the BPD works hard to win back the object upon which they heap their self-loathing, their self-hate. And the Non is often so co-dependant, he or she is simply drawn back into the foray.
“But I’m going to get out,” Bobby said, “as soon as our child is old enough.” Many aren’t able to wait, and move on to divorce, which are usually bitter battles against an enraged foe. BPDs are sore losers. BPDs can also look to all that don’t know them well, as perfect, loving mates, that are themselves being abused by their spouses. Many other Nons wait until some point of exit after children are out of the house. Unfortunately, it is often too late to get out without damage; many by then suffer greatly from stress-induced diseases. Many are nearly crippled from their own inner weakness exhibiting itself through weakened muscles and bones.
“We, as nons, try to bare our cross bravely,” Bobby said, “but we lose a lot in the process.”
Pray for those with BPD, that they may be healed. Pray for those entangled with a BPD, that they may endure and get out with something left of themselves.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .