It is day 8 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Today’s story is from an Indian man, Pankaj, who went to the depths of despair and back after being in a very abusive relationship with a woman he suspects has Borderline Personality Disorder.
I have been a quiet lurker on Shrink4Men for past 1 year now. This site has helped me tremendously, so when an opportunity came where I could share my story with other users on this site, I couldn’t stop myself. Before I begin I want to clarify that English isn’t my first language. Please pardon me in case I make mistakes.
About me: I am from India , I grew up in the capital and am from what you would call as “lower middle class” , (I added “middle” as saving grace.) I love fixing things, I love helping people out, it gives me a sense of importance. I had a hard childhood, I grew up in a broken home, father was never around, but my mother helped me a lot. She ensured I got very good education. As I grew up I studied engineering. Logic and rational thinking have always been my strength. I also used to stutter as a child; hence I was an introverted teenager. In short, I had a hard childhood, fixing compulsions, rescuer tendencies, and a people pleaser — I was the perfect prey for a BPD girl and this is my story.
I don’t want to give her name here, so we will call her, “Ri”. I met Ri online. We chatted for a few months and then exchanged numbers. I loved talking to Ri. India is a mind bogglingly diverse country, language, accent and dialect change every 10 miles or so. I love this thing about my country. I am from a north Indian warrior clan, she was born in an east Indian trader community. We lived more than 1000 miles apart. We were in love before we saw each other. (Yes, I know). After knowing each other for months, Ri decided she would come to New Delhi for higher studies; meanwhile I had left my job to be in a business school close by her and take up an MBA degree.
The first time we met face to face. I was in love. I loved Ri. I loved everything about her. Her long black hair, her beautiful eyes, her voice, her east Indian accent, so I loved Ri and Ri loved me (or that’s what she used to say). The first few months were the honeymoon period. It was bliss. It was perfect.
How can someone love me so much? Me? Me, who had barely ever felt love from the outside world. I knew I would marry Ri. She meant the world to me. As the honeymoon period passed, I noticed a few unusual outbursts. I wrote them off as Ri being a bit on the sensitive side. The more I ignored the red flags, the more they grew worse.
In between, tragedy struck Ri and her family. Her father passed away. She hated her father. She would talk about him in such vile manner; I used to think of him as a horrible man. But when he passed away, Ri was in terrible grief. Every night Ri cried, I was there to console her. But no matter what I said, nothing stopped her. Her sorrow was like a bottomless pit and the way she would put it in words, it was so profound and so deep, I found it overwhelming.
As weeks passed, sorrow gave way to bickering and bickering led to daily arguments over things which were absolutely trivial in nature. Everything was always my fault. Then came a time period when fights became a daily thing. Ri was never physically violent toward me, but what she lacked in physical aggression she made up for in passive aggression, emotional manipulation, no win games and shit tests. She would say the cruelest things to me and yet pretend as if nothing happened and call me again tomorrow. I was the perfect white knight, I never fought back. How could I? Aren’t men supposed to be the silent rock?
Ri is a cutter. No matter how much I told her I loved her, she never stopped it. After every few weeks she would tell me, “last night I cut myself”. These weren’t tiny cuts; they went deep into her flesh. It never occurred to me she may be having psychological issues. Ri was exceptional at academics, just like me. She is a university topper and very well read. She is a high functioning kind. You can never win an argument against her.
Our relationship went from bad to worse. Honeymoon was over, that initial pink haze just disappeared and now I was taking a daily hit from her Fogger 3000 (F.O.G — Fear, Obligation and Guilt). Blame games, truth distortion, emotional reasoning — everything I said would be turned around and used against me.
Then the triangulation started. Enter downgrade future boyfriend. Ri found a drug abuser. The more I tried to keep her away from him, the more she went to him. She started from alcohol and went down to hardcore drugs. It became a daily thing and her behavior would become even more abusive. I found myself even censoring my own words, by now I wanted to say nothing at all, which could set her off.
Her name on my phone would scare me. I immersed myself in studies to distract myself from all the chaos. Ri shares everything with this drug addict. They talk dirty, they share facebook passwords, they spend all their free time together, while I am the sorrow of her life.
Ri would break up with me every week and then taks me back. My self-respect hit rock bottom and I didn’t have the wisdom left to ask myself why? My MBA finished and I found a job in another state. I had to leave Ri and move for a few months, until I could switch jobs and come back close to my hometown.
Ri’s core abandonment fear really came into play then. Ri cut me off. The other guy, he is her everything. He is what I once was. She worships him, while I am discarded. I must have done something to deserve this. May be she is right. May be I couldn’t understand her as she used to complain. May be I am insensitive and cruel. I left my home to start the job in another state.
My first day there, Ri called and told me, she slept with the drug addict. I felt lost. I felt my world was been burnt down. No matter how abusive Ri was to me, I loved her. She was my first love. I cried myself to sleep each night. A strange never-ending depression took me over. I went through my workday and came back to my flat to just sit down and stare into nothing for hours. For 3 months my eyes never really dried.
Ri still called me every 2-3 days to tell me how fabulous her life was. How the drug addict was everything that I am not. I kept trying to tell her how I could be better. No matter what I said I was never good enough. Then one fine day, I got a job offer in my hometown. That’s it, I thought. This is my break! I could win her back now.
I told her I was coming back. Ri told me she was only friends with that boy and wanted us back too. I agreed. I was happy. I would build back that honeymoon period, or so I dreamt. I landed back in New Delhi only to find tht Ri had changed her mind. I felt shattered into a million pieces.
She would give me a ray of hope and then take it away from me. I would go half way around New Delhi just to see her and talk to her and I would find her in such an abusive mood it would be hard to believe. She would verbally abuse me for 2 hours, while all I am supposed to do is hear her out, not utter a word in explanation and just sit there while she rants out at me. Topics of argument are just simply crazy.
Me not remembering her favorite flower, me not being able to read her mind, me not caring enough about her, me not trusting her to spend time with the guy she has just slept with! Me not changing my hairstyle to what she wants! How can I be so insensitive and controlling? After she is done ranting, she has to go; the part where I speak up never comes. 10 months of this on-off relationship has been nothing but me getting used to her stabbing a proverbial knife in me every now and then.
There is nothing more tragic than a man chasing a borderline. What he is actually chasing is his own destruction.
Ri has cheated on me multiple times. She even directed a widespread smear campaign against me. Her friends think I am a terrible person. She has projected everything she is onto me. Ri never attacked me physically, but instead used her downgrade boyfriend to issue death threats to me. If I had not been careful, the chances of violence between him and me were very high. My life was turned into a mix of depression and fear. Then one day I finally broke down. That’s the night I did “it”. I woke up in a hospital the next day from a failed suicide attempt.
The next 2 months, my mother took care of me. I was a wreck. She kept asking me to remove Ri from my life forever, to forget her and move on. While I was idle at work, I googled “painful break up” and “getting over heartbreak.” One site led to another and I found myself on “shrink4men”. The first article I read, “Is your girlfriend a borderline?” blew me away. Everything it says matches to what went down with me. Every other article does, too.
I have found my beacon in pitch black darkness. I read and read till I have read every single article and every single user comment on this site. I went No Contact. In 2 months, the FOG has lifted and liberation has come.
It has been a year since then. Ri has tried hoovering me back many times and failed each time. Downgrade boyfriend has been dumped. All of a sudden, I am back to being the greatest thing that ever happened to her. I see through it all and block her everywhere. I told her about BPD and asked her to seek help. She denied it all and says she is fine.
Where am I today? I have forgiven Ri. It is not her fault that nature made her this way. She is the wolf and I am the sheep. I have sympathy for her but I will never go back to her. A part of my heart has seen through all her masks and sees the really hurt girl to whom life has been cruel. The abuse has shaped her into something she never chose to be. Like I said, I have sympathy for her, but I WON’T be her victim. NEVER AGAIN.
To my brothers who have had a cluster B in their life, this is what I say to you. No matter what kind of hell you are living in or have been through, never take the option of ending your life. Instead, get up and keep walking forward. Keep walking forward, one step at a time.
I am very glad you were not successful in your suicide attempt, Pankaj. You are so very correct when you say, “There is nothing more tragic than a man chasing a borderline. What he is actually chasing is his own destruction.” Thank you for having the courage to share your story.
In His Own Words/In Her Own Words is an effort to help raise awareness about the invisible victims of domestic violence, men. If you would like to submit your story, please follow the guidelines at the end of this article.
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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Wow. I definitely needed to read this. Thank you. Thank you, a LOT. It’s amazing how no matter how many stories like this you read, the BPDs allure can be so great, you almost feel like a mouse willingly going into the trap when they turn the charm on. No matter the destruction they cause, their ability to “forget” it like it never happened and proceed is remarkably awe-inspiring. Hate feeling like a victim to it all though, especially when they play the victim role so well…I definitely needed to read this, though…
I feel your pain. The only thing that keeps me alive is my child and the fact that my parents are still alive. I don’t want to hurt them. But they have to see me dismantled piece by piece. I still have hope that I can try to reverse that.
Ever listen to stupid people discuss suicide? “It’s a selfish act!” and that’s the first and only thing they say. It’s a meme. As the Dr probably knows, the primary thing (scientific measure) to spur on a genuine suicide attempt is the degree of hopelessness. Hopelessness is the primary measure of willingness to off yourself. Loss of hope has nothing to do with being “selfish”. (Someone give me the research on “Selfishness”, please!) I would understand “selfish” if one did not care how the death would affect other people. Sometimes one may think that the suicide is better than everyone seeing your life hacked to little bloody pieces and your struggle, with your mistakes, for everyone to comment on.
My life goal is to just be able to have a good job and be my son’s father and not have my life meddled with to the extent that it is right now. These are things I am confident I can do: being a good father and being good at my job. I know my potential as a sane, secure father and I’m striving for that. Girlfriend? I don’t think that is within the realm of my life right now and may never be. I could live without it.