Surviving A Seriously Toxic Relationship – Part One

I honestly think people meet for a reason. My thoughts here are, it is to learn and create together or learn and create apart. Our relationships with our intimate lovers, friends and acquaintances can in some ways be defined by what we both learn and go on to accomplish, share and go on to help others through our own experiences.

If you have ever been in an unnecessarily argumentative, emotional, mentally or even physically abusive relationship that can be categorised with frequent breakups and passionate get back together’s then this may be of help and interest to you in both getting some kind of understanding of what’s happening and finding ways to live healthily together or move apart sooner.

It is my intention that these articles will provide examples you may relate to and to provide means to make the right changes for you in terms of your relationship.

If you choose to get out of this kind of toxic relationship the rest of this articles will offer some suggestions as to how as a survivor you can let go of the past, feel better and move forward with a sense of forgiveness and compassion. My reparation took me over six weeks to fully heal my heart and head, to let go of many unhelpful emotions and memories and feel whole again.

I most often find labelling people is not helpful. What I want to show here is a collection of coping mechanisms people with so called Borderline Personality Disorder ( BPD ) have for coping in their world and specifically coping in an intimate personal relationship.

It is honestly NOT their fault they have these modes of behaviour or coping mechanisms to be interacting with intimate partners but unless you are their therapist or their partner you will most likely never see this side of their personality. It can be like a real life Jekyll and Hyde. Relationships with this kind of characteristic can look like the Somme Battlefield from the outside. From the inside it is honestly much, much worse for both people.

Please read the following article for an insight into a BPD relationship. Click on the hyperlink below.

How a Borderline Personality Disorder Love Relationship Evolves

An Article by Roger Melton MA

The article above describes very well my perceptions of my own experience in a relationship with an ex partner who displayed all of the coping mechanisms that I will describe below. As such I have no intention of relating specific personal examples. This is for two reasons. Sometimes I feel ‘our story’ has an element of ‘the victim’ attached to it and so creates unhelpful gossip and agony aunt style, problem focused awareness and also this is really about recognising the signs and making a choice as to how best to move forward.

Having been in a toxic and mutually unhealthy relationship with a partner who exhibited these coping strategies for BPD with various intensities and frequencies; I have to say, at that time I simply didn’t understand what was happening or why they behaved that way. I did not understand many of our interaction. They often made little sense, more often than not no sense at all.

Arguments would frequently erupt from nowhere. My then partner would shout, make fists become verbally aggressive and abusive. In short a kind of totally unpredictable angry temper tantrum. Their raging arguments were paradoxical with what I perceived as frequent double standards that simply could not be reasoned out. I had no real idea how or why these would start arguments, but now I know, it is just one way of coping:

When you get to understand what childhood circumstances created these coping mechanisms or behavioural imprints ( DSM-IV-TR, The Angry Heart ) it is actually very easy to forgive and feel real compassion for an ex partner or even a current one; It is also very easy to forgive yourself. But when you don’t know, it is all too easy to feel hurt, used, manipulated, cheated and abused. This is the victim role. You can lose your sense of self value and self respect; Because you love them so you keep going back … for more of the same and so the cycle continues.

BPD Criteria and Coping Mechanisms

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects and markedly impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts as indicated by five ( or more ) of the following :

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation.
3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense of self.
4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self damaging ( spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
5. Recurrent suicidal behaviours, gestures or threats of self-mutilating behaviour.
6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood ( intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger ( frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights ).
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or sever dissociative symptoms.

DSM – IV -TR

Part Two of this article will go on to explore the issue of blame and responsibility. Part Three will offer suggestions and ways, that as a survivor of specifically this kind of toxic relationship you can heal your emotional past and then move forward in life with a genuine sense of forgiveness and compassion.

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