Someone I love has Borderline Personality Disorder and she knows exactly which buttons to push to make me feel like an epic failure. Whenever I am at what I think is my lowest point, she can prove to me that I actually can feel even lower. Vulnerability is viewed as a chink in my armor and she somehow manages to pack it full of C-4 explosives and blows the shit out of me every single time. I can’t cut this seemingly caustic relationship entirely for a lot of reasons, but I’m learning to survive by putting down clear, wide, and firm boundaries.
I’ve learned to not discuss anything remotely personal with her. I do not share feelings, issues about my husband, children, sisters or brother, dad, or friends with her. We cannot discuss social issues or politics or religion. We cannot even discuss topics related to finance or items in the news. While we are now polar opposites with regard to religion and politics, I noticed that even when we once shared the same religion and some similar political views, she was still “stronger” and “more knowledgeable” in faith or stance and would find a way to pick apart my person rather than just agreeing to disagree. She has threatened to call the police and file charges against one of my teen boys following a fist fight between him and his brother that she did not witness and had happened 2 days prior to her knowing about it. . She told her family that one of my son’s has Asperger Syndrome because she once read a book about it and he is an introvert who would rather just not talk to her. Another time he had a dizzy spell and blacked out when he stood up too fast. She insisted that he had a brain tumor and then said that I was not taking his health seriously because I refused to call an ambulance or take him to the emergency room.
In the recent past, I mentioned that I was concerned about one of my kids having a lack of ambition as it related to school. She chose to tell me that it is because he is broken and that I abused him verbally as a child. This was the straw that broke my camel’s back. I explained in no uncertain terms that I have been married for 20 years. I’ve had children for 19 of those years. If we added up all of the visits and time spent together during those 19 years the total would equal about 2 months maybe 3 with generosity. The truth is she has no idea how I raised my children except that it is a different style than she raised hers. I said that her views were skewed at best and that I would never share anything personal with her again because she loves to kick me when I am down. I did not speak to her for about 3 weeks.
I am currently wading back into the relationship with her, but I am keeping the conversation limited to the weather, cooking and books that we are reading.
People, boundaries are a beautiful thing. They are those kiddie bumpers of bowling lanes that keep our ball of life on track; they are the guardrails on Mulholland Drive. They keep us from throwing gutter balls and plunging to a fiery death down a mountainside. They are a necessity for those who do not respect privacy or differences. Use them. Trust me. You’ll thank me.