Firstly, this is a very complicated question to
answer. The reason why it seems as though your borderline
is not "remembering" is has all to do with the very
essence of what it means to have Borderline Personality
For many borderlines, it's not so much a matter of
whether they remember something relationally, such as
what you are describing with your husband, but, it is
more a matter of what they experienced in the initial
relating. That is to say, when a non-borderline sits
down to relate to a borderline, more often then not
there is not one shared page there. There is from the
get-go, two separate and distinct pages, or realities
involved in any communication. So, what you remember
as having been real and unfolding for you in a
relational sense between your huband and yourself is
likely not at all what he experienced.
Since he likely didn't experience what you did,
he cannot possibly remember the situation or interaction
as having happened the way that you do. Ultimately,
as is the case with any reality, in any relational
context, there is no "absolute" or 100% shared-version.
This means that you are both coming at your attempts
to share communication from different realities, different
experience and different degrees of ability to in fact
"share" an unfolding experience.
In Borderline Personality Disorder, as I've mentioned
many times in my articles, (see A.J.'s BPD Articles)
the most profound effect of it all plays itself out in
Your husband is likely experiencing you as someone from
his past, at least in part, during these attempts that you
have at sharing communication around your relationship. When
a borderline is triggered, they become somewhat dissociative
in the sense that they often leave the "reality" of the here
and now interaction and relate to it and react to it as if it
were a past dynamic re-unfolding from a time when the borderlines
needs were frustrated and remained unmet.
When he, as you say, seems to go back to square one and
think of you as some sort of monster, this is exactly what
I was referring to above. He is not seeing you. He is not
experiencing you, in the present. He is experiencing someone
else through you. Because he is not "seeing you" he is in
fact seeing someone who hurt him, neglected him, didn't
meet his needs in the past. He is regressing and reverting
back to a younger age in his life experience emotionally.
So if he is perceiving a monster, he is merely projecting
out some past "all-bad" perception and experience of someone
on to you.
Difficult and challenging as I know it is, you need to
work at not taking this personally, for your own sake.
As for how you can improve the situation. I'm not so sure
that you can. It is largely up to your husband. As for
whether or not the situation itself can be improved, that
is to say can your husband change how he experiences and
reacts to you and your communications, yes, with lots of
hard work, time and determination in therapy. Can he change
that now though, not likely just like that. And, he can
only change it if he chooses to. And for him to choose to
change anything, he first as to be aware that there is a
need for something to change.
This is a tough one because you love him. You have
invested a lot in this relationship. However, this is
the place at which the non-borderline has to try to
do things differently, take care of themselves and work
at stopping the way they engage and re-engage in the
borderline's drama of trauma. Easier said then done.
For some it means supporting their borderline through
therapy when the borderline is willing to make an honest
effort at therapy. For others it means changing expecations
and relating somewhat differently through boundary adjustments.
Still for others, this understanding of how limited many
borderlines are in terms of having the emotional maturity
necessary to have a relatively healthy adult reciprocal
relationships means ending a relationship and moving forward
for someone like yourself to someone who can give you what
it is that you want/need/deserve in and from a significant
I would suggest that you seriously think about getting
professional help. Either for yourself, alone, to figure
out what you need, or together to see if you can work things
out to where you can get on the same page at least some of
the time in the hopes that you can both relate in a way that
will meet both of your needs.
This response is © A.J. Mahari
Experience of Non-Borderlines
This page/section was created on August 15, 2002 as part of the
re-organization of (Soul's Self Help Central)
© Ms. A.J. Mahari 1996-2002 and moved to this domain December 15, 2002. © A.J. Mahari 2002-2007
Last up-dated July 29, 2007