WAIFS AND UNSUNG HEROES;
Rescuing The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Be Saved.
By Shari Schreiber,
the hundreds of letters I get from men who desperately "want
to help" the Borderline after their troubling affair has
ended, I suppose this article's time has finally come. I understand
that you tirelessly tried to assist her, teach her and rescue
her during that relationship, and you're wrestling with letting
go of this fixation, weeks or months later. You may even be keeping
your perceptions about what really went on in your dynamic
under wraps, for fear of hurting her feelings--or risking that
she will never speak to you again. In essence, you're still walking
on eggshells, and putting her needs first.
Borderline Waif seldom exhibits the harsh or volatile traits we've
come to associate with other BPD types. Waifs usually appear fragile,
needful and victimized by their relationships and life
your Waif lover has BPD
Queen traits, she's dissociated from her dark or negative
emotions (like anger), because she believes them to be unacceptable
and "wrong," so she sure as hell won't make any room
for yours! If she feels reprimanded or criticized, her natural
anger will likely be submerged, but may get replaced by an imperious,
judgmental, shaming tone, which she'll smack you with, from high
atop her pedestal. The Queen always has to occupy the one-up position
in all her relationships. If you trigger her core shame, she'll
become highly indignant, and immediately deflect these feelings
by going on the offensive to shame you.
male who grew up having to love an unhappy, discontent or depressed,
worried mother will likely be attracted to a BPD Waif. The central
reason for this, is that he tried tenaciously as a child to balance/improve
his mother's mood, with the subconscious hope that he could win
her affection, and help her become more responsive to his intrinsic
needs for tenderness, play and joyful interaction. This means,
he came to believe that if he could just repair Her, he might
feel happier and at ease. As a kid, this was an automatic and
reflexive defense he acquired, to get what he needed, and save
himself from further distress. The trouble is, he learned to give,
what he very much needed to receive, and that has set the tone
for all his attachments in adulthood.
FEEL COMPELLED TO RESCUE A BORDERLINE FROM HER PAIN AND TROUBLES,
WHICH SHOULD SET OFF YOUR WARNING SIGNALS.
people might blame their struggles on elements outside
their control, like karmic retribution; "I must have
done something really awful in a past life, to deserve this!"
When their relationships falter, they're the victim.
If Waifs engage therapeutic support, it's typically in the midst
of a severe crisis. Given they're inherently resistant to change
and growth (which threatens their precarious sense of control)
their progress in therapy tends to be very slow, and there are
frequent setbacks and regressions.
'helplessness' is the Waif's core emotional theme, options and
choices that are healthier or more productive, are generally avoided.
Perhaps your lover is continuously struggling with some sort of
drama or challenge, and you've repeatedly offered sound suggestions
and tried to help--but to no avail. As difficult as this is to
fathom, when you throw a life preserver to a Waif, she ignores/disregards
it (throws it back), or resents the gesture.
assume this borderline is always physically thin/slender. I've
observed plenty of these folks who are overweight or even rotund,
but display classic victim, martyr, helpless/hopeless personality
traits. Remember, BPD is often accompanied by eating disorders,
and compulsive overeating
is common--but may only show up later in life (take a look at
all the actresses/actors who've become grossly overweight as they've
aged). Vanity, plus stringent dieting, purging and other methods
of weight control kept these people svelte during their younger
years when professional opportunities were more plentiful, but
they've ultimately given-in to their compulsions, and let themselves
common denominators are present in individuals who attach to BPD
Waifs. Generally, these are people
pleaser types, who have rescuing or fixing compulsions, self-esteem
difficulties from childhood, intimacy issues, engulfment concerns,
poor self-image, dysthymia (chronic/long-standing mild to moderate
depression), etc. Foundational problems of this kind leave men
vulnerable to being seduced and manipulated by these women. You
may be extremely accomplished and successful--but the Borderline
will methodically learn what's underneath these props,
and use your most intimate secrets and self-doubts against you.
Men drawn to waifs are addicted
to helping others, and need to be in the one-up position in
their relationships. They take great pride in their self-reliance,
but they're afraid to need anyone~ and authentic loving
means we need someone emotionally.
ARE MORE AT EASE WITH PAIN, THAN WITH PLEASURE.
all one has ever known is struggle and survival, this is what
feels familiar and "normal." The Waif has a very difficult
time surrendering this well-worn groove, because there's comfort
in it, no matter how dire her circumstances have become. It's
as if she knows how to survive the waves that threaten to drown
her, but never swims to shore, because safety and calm are radically
foreign and frightening concepts. In essence, any feeling that
is unknown to the Borderline, is an intimidating mystery
that's better left alone.
who has grown up with a BPD waif-type mother has observed a pitiful,
long-suffering woman who won't leave her harsh, abusive or neglectful
husband, no matter how bitterly she complains about him. Why?
Because pain is enlivening for her~ and without it she feels dead
inside. Besides, who could she fault for her dissatisfaction,
depression and emptiness, if she left that relationship?? This
type of mother may be hyper-religious, as church-going is often
used to provide a rigid container, which her childlike mind requires
to teach her how to behave, what to believe, and how to think.
It fills the hole in her soul, helps her feel safer, and assuages
the need for independent thought.
Borderline Waif mother typically scapegoats her children for their
father's rage and abuse, rather than boldly intervening and protecting
them from it, or taking her kids away to safety~ yet she may have
held the flame that ignited his anger!
may have had an angry, alcoholic father, but who lit his fuse
and made him need to self-medicate his pain? Have you given any
thought to why he might not have been around much of
the time? Did he return home to a nagging, discontent or depressed
wife after slaying dragons and putting out fires all day at work?
Could you have grown up with a distorted/skewed sense of who was
actually the more problematic parent?
not unusual for the son of a Waif to connect with his father in
nourishing ways after the death of his mother, as he begins to
perceive qualities in his dad he wasn't privy to, while Mother
was still alive. His entire life may have been spent vilifying
his dad, based on what he assumed was the source of his
mom's anguish, and what she led him to believe about
his parents' discord.
Waif could be referenced or thought of, as "the quiet Borderline."
You get the feeling she can't fend for herself, and you'll try
to help her--even after it's over between you! Your altruism might
be noble, if it weren't masking your sense of emptiness
and emotional impotency where she's concerned. What's unfortunate,
is your Ego is in serious need of mending in the aftermath of
this relationship, yet much of your attention is still focused
on how to make things better for her, help her avoid ruining other
men's lives--and needing to think you've made some kind of difference
in this woman's world. I have two words for you: Stop
isn't healthy~ it's merely a lofty euphemism for codependency.
if you've become "really close" with her family members
or friends, and you feel an irrepressible need to share with them
your newfound knowledge about Borderline Personality traits after
countless hours of Internet research you'll only intensify
her pain. The primary reason she's still in this position, is
denial. Denial is a survival reflex that helps us defend
against facing that which we're not ready to confront, and it's
there to protect us. Besides this, within the realm of personality
disorders, apples very seldom fall far from trees--and I can assure
you, this news will not be appreciated or utilized by
IN DISTRESS AND YOUR HERO COMPLEX:
dating, the Waif may share tales about a former spouse or lover
who assaulted her, and you'll feel outrage. These
accounts inspire your fierce need to protect her--while assuring
yourself, "it'll be different with me~ why not--I'm
one of the good guys!" During these ambitious storytellings,
you're made to feel heroic, exceptional and uniquely unlike
all the others she's known. But no matter how convincing this
female is, you must resist the temptation to believe what she
tells you. While it might be true that she was tormented or
struck, you may soon come to realize how those men were literally
pushed to the brink of violence. Borderlines have grown up with
abuse and/or neglect--tragically (again), it's what feels
natural. Waifs might finally
leave their abusers, but they'll often hook up with another, and
another, and another--and nice guys (like you) finish
last. Actress and singer Judy Garland (Wizard of OZ) was as perfect
an example of this self-defeating pattern, as you might ever come
across. Her personal life was always painful, dramatic, and in
Waif seduces you with her fragility. If your childhood experiences
turned you into a mediator, fixer or rescuer, this woman or
man presents you with plenty of opportunities to feel powerful,
in charge and in-control. You thrive on these, for they temporarily
appease your need to be needed, which has formed the entirety
of your self-worth--but have you ever felt valued and loved for
simply being, instead of doing?
Borderline might have been so insecure and needy, you felt reasonably
certain she would never leave you--but at times, secretly hoped
she would. Her physical disorders inspired your sympathy and determination
to protect her, but you often marveled at how someone so young
could be so sickly! For the most part, your relationship moved
along pretty smoothly, until you tried to express any
personal concerns or needs. The Waif can't handle that; after
all, it's clearly been your job
to take care of her. The minute you had a need,
she either made you wrong for it, shut-down, punished you or left.
Borderline waif is often hypochondriacal. Illness and ailments
are usually the direct result of years of unresolved emotional
trauma, which cannot help but manifest in the physical body. They've
learned that people generally respond with sympathy to victims,
whether their unfortunate plight is due to health or financial
setbacks. You'll feel guilty if you don't do whatever you can
to help this person, even if it's finding them lodgings, a job,
food for their kid or dog to eat, paying for their car repairs,
etc. What you don't get, is that the list never
ends! You're never off the hook for bailing them out of one drama
or another, and even when they swear "this is the last
time," they'll still turn to you for help the next time
there's a need. A sucker is
born every day--and the brutal reality is, if you
won't come to her rescue, the next guy with a Hero Complex she
bumps into, surely will. Borderlines are extremely resourceful
at locating 'saviors,' and there's always someone
around who'll pick up the pieces of their pitiful life. Problem
is, he'll be used and discarded, precisely as you have
your Borderline Waif can't get you to rescue her by acting helpless,
hopeless and pitiful, he/she will shame you, shut you out or rage
at you. Waifs are frustrated when their "poor me" tactics
fail to get them what they want--and that's when you get lambasted
for being a "bad" lover, friend, son, daughter, therapist,
etc. The waif mother persistently controls her children in this
way. If they don't respond to her victim/martyr act, there's literally
hell to pay! The rejection, shame and guilt her children are forced
to endure, isn't worth the anguish of failing to respond to her
Waif deflects your efforts to help or guide her/him toward
more productive and effective solutions with "yah-buts"--or
keeps shifting the topic, which is exasperating. Borderlines are
wired differently than you. Accept it!
begin to realize that you will never
save the Waif. The only time Waifs make progress with reference
to healing or growth, is within a unique, extended-term therapeutic
alliance that can help them recover from painful, buried
core trauma. If they are deeply committed
to achieving wholeness/wellness during this process, they could
make some gains. Some of these individuals will be able to create
productive, satisfying lives and form balanced, healthy attachments--and
some will not. How do I know this? I've worked with plenty
WAIF IS A WOLF IN SHEEPS CLOTHING, BUT NO LESS HARMFUL OR DIABOLICAL.
BPD Waif will retreat or shut down on you emotionally, when the/she
is upset. She might not speak to you for days or weeks at a time,
and a mother who does this to her child is abandoning him/her
in the most sadistic way imaginable.
compulsions to return for another drink from a Borderline's toxic
well despite how rejecting and injurious she is to you, stems
from your painful need for reprieve from emotional exile. You're
desperately wanting to escape the shame of having been banished
from her kingdom, because it hurts way too much, and drudges up
ancient abandonment despair from your childhood. These sensations
were so distressing, you learned to bury
them with various addictions and compensatory
behaviors, but the Borderline brings those old wounds right to
exile can be excruciating, because we're essentially in limbo
when someone withdraws, and we often blame ourselves for it. If
you grew up in a home where you experienced emotional cut-off
from Mom or Dad if/when you disappointed them, this pain is reactivated
when your Borderline shuts-down and takes him/herself away. You
might force their hand by doing something you think could catalyze
even more pain for yourself (like their ultimate/final rejection
of you), as that could feel more familiar--and therefore, better
than this limbo state of not knowing
which direction this thing will take.
be less overtly sexual or seductive than Siren Borderlines, which
makes them seem like 'good girls.' They may readily apologize
(sometimes, profusely) after your relationship tussles--which
makes them appear capable of empathy. This is far more
about abandonment concerns and enmeshment issues, than their actual
capacity to see your perspective, and it perpetuates
those come here/go away cycles in this dance. They'll tell you
how wonderful you are--but then the slightest oversight lands
you back on their shit list.
Men are usually incapable
of letting themselves even imagine that their waif could
cheat on them, or have an affair; "she's just not the type!"
Her good girl image may have been backed-up with stories or comments
that have led you to think of her in a sort of pristine fashion.
The Madonna Waif makes you wait a substantial
amount of time, before she's "ready" to get physical
or sexual--which reinforces your sense of her virtue. Borderlines
will only let you know what they're wanting or needing you to
know. The fabrications and lies start from the very beginning--which
is why it seems like you've noticed so many mixed signals and
contradictions in this relationship.
Waifs seem to be devoid
of darker emotions--or can be unwilling to express them. Again,
they're the good girls who may come across as passive,
meek and amenable to almost anything that's thrown at them. Unfortunately,
this means they'll act-out their feelings passive-aggressively,
rather than talking to you about them. It also means that you're
the one who's stuck carrying the emotions for the both of you!
When one partner is passive, the other must be active. Anger is
usually expressed by the active partner--but punished by the passive
one, which typically takes the form of withdrawal or retreat.
Which one are you??
THE ADDICTION AFFLICTION
Do not make
the mistake of thinking this woman is helpless. She isn't!
Most are extremely resilient and resourceful (survivors generally
are), but they're reliant/needy around You.
They might be highly proficient professionals, but the 'rescue
me' act surfaces when you're around. Did she seem a bit
troubled or tragic when you met? Did this later seem incongruent
with her job title or work responsibilities? The Waif's duality
lets her be independent in her world, but incompetent
or frail in yours. How else, could she get you to
be her Savior?
Perhaps in contrast to other
borderline types, the Waif may be more likely to exhibit childlike
qualities that you could initially find endearing--but later on,
resent. As this relationship unfolds, you'll be noticing what
seems to be her limited common sense, her inability to comprehend
adult reason, her lack of impulse control and her non-reciprocation.
Essentially, you'll be the grown-up who's always rowing this boat
you're in, and she'll be the carefree child passenger.
point in this dynamic, you must ask yourself; "what's the
payoff, in my wanting to be involved with a child?
Does it help me feel more confident or secure? Must I be with
somebody I have the need to control? Is it possible for
me to love an equal partner who can have my back,
as I have hers? Can I even be in a reciprocal relationship--or
would that feel threatening for me?"
During this relationship
or after a break-up, your lover might state that you'd be "better
off" being with, or marrying another. This is pure martyrdom--and
as lucid or empathetic as it may sound, it has nothing whatsoever
to do with genuine concern for your well-being! She's
giving you an out~ but if you take it, rest assured there'll be
hell to pay, as you'll be forever guilted for it.
WHERE DO YOU END,
AND I BEGIN (and vice-versa)?
The primary emotions you
will feel in this relationship are frustration, shame and guilt.
Enmeshment by a Waif Mother means learning in
childhood, that her feelings always came before yours--so
your happiness or the lack of it, hinges on her
moods. Being raised by a Waif means we feel guilty, just for feeling
good--unless those 'good' sensations are simultaneously
shared by Mother.
can get his emotional needs met by a depressed, sad or discontent
mother! He assumes that if he were important to his mommy and
she valued him, she'd be cheerful and emotionally available to
play with and adore him. When he doesn't get these supplies of
affection and attention, he feels shame~ and believes he's not
good enough to deserve them. This core belief follows an individual
the rest of his/her life, unless/until effective help is engaged
to dismantle and heal it.
is required to discern the Waif's emotional state, so we can determine
our own. When our Waif Lover is sad, so must
we be. The only way to flee the heavy darkness of her despair
and not feel so guilty about it, is to kick into high gear and
fix whatever has prompted her bad mood--so
that we can rebalance, and feel okay again. You were
groomed for this as a little kid, and it has influenced all your
romantic choices and endeavors.
Enmeshment is the inability
to discern and separate one's own feelings and needs from another's.
A simple example would be, when a couple's trying to decide on
which restaurant or movie they want, and each is unable to assert
his or her preference, for fear of incurring the other's disappointment.
This usually prompts the vicious cycle; "well, I don't
know--what do you want to do?" These
people live with considerable ambivalence, inner emptiness and
deadness. Personal feelings and needs were discarded early
on, when the Waif Mother's need was to keep
her toddler from separating/individuating, which is when his codependency
were born. You'll continually feel sorry for your waif--and have
the compulsion to repair or rescue her, so you can feel
happier or at peace. You will also be apologizing for disappointing
her, way more than you should. Feel your emotions, let
her experience hers, and stop this "sorry"
a relationship upset, your Waif is far more likely to cry or get
weepy, than rage at you. The 'waterworks' always make you feel
guilty--so you'll do and say almost anything to elevate
her mood, and make it better. But what do you do when she shuts
down, takes herself away, and won't speak with you for hours or
days at a time? The Waif's coldness and unresponsiveness can feel
torturous--you might even prefer that she'd scream at
you, rather than shutting you out!
When your Waif feels ready
to grant you reprieve from exile, she could try to initiate lengthy,
dramatic conversations about the recent rupture, and you'll spend
too many exhausting phone or face to face hours trying to get
over this speed-bump! You'll feel relief when you're
finally back on semi-solid ground--until the next
time this cycle hits, and you're back in the soup.
THE DRAMA OF THE
'TOO GOOD' ADULT CHILD OF A BORDERLINE:
Children of Borderline Waifs
often enter helping/healing professions, as their early years
were spent trying to mitigate the mother's fears, worry, sadness,
hopelessness and emotional withdrawal. Psychotherapists, doctors,
nurses, rescue workers, etc., can acquire an intense need
to feel needed and make a difference, in a way that was never
possible to accomplish with their parent. The
Waif Mother enmeshes
her kids, by making them feel responsible for her mood, survival
who perceives upset/discord in his parent's facial expressions
or demeanor, thinks it's his fault--and experiences shame.
A youngster hasn't acquired the capacity for reasoning or analysis
of events, so his/her natural response to the most subtle signs
of the parent's frustration, discontent or sadness, is interpreted
as they are to blame for it!
are extremely sensitive to vibrational changes around them. When
any child notices their parent's distress, he/she will ask; "Mommy,
what's wrong?" A loving, healthy, whole mother understands
her child's need for comfort and reassurance that it has nothing
to do with him, and replies with an explanation he can
understand, along with assurances that her sadness or anger will
shortly pass. But the Waif Mother handles this
very differently, and projects her core belief that "life's
too hard" ~and maybe you're to blame, onto
her child. From this, he feels shame and develops a subtle anxiety
that asserts; "if something should happen to you,
what will become of me?" and all later attachments
are fraught with this concern. Hence, rescuing or fixing compulsions
are indelibly etched in stone.
An emotionally underdeveloped
mother is not connected to her own feelings or needs. When a child
needs affirmation that the mother's moods have not been due to
any "bad" behavior on his part, but
she replies "nothing's wrong," he experiences
confusing disparity between what he's seen and sensed, and the
response he is given. This destroys his ability to trust
his perceptions, instincts and intuitions all through adulthood.
serious problem arises from this disparity between what a child
sees, and how his/her parent responds to that perception. He learns
to doubt/discard his innate senses (instincts, intuition, visual/verbal
cues, etc.), which leaves him shooting in the dark with respect
to all his adult interactions, be they personal or professional.
He's got no inner compass to guide his decisions,
and he's almost always second-guessing himself! This is the sad
outcome of having learned to think his way through life,
rather than feeling his way along.
THE WAIF IS A MARTYR
WHO INFUSES LOVE WITH GUILT TO MANIPULATE AND CONTROL
Quiet or benign
Borderlines can be every bit as injurious to you, as the more
volatile types! They wield their hyper-sensitivity as a sword,
to slice you and dice you into little shreds of a guy who readily
accepts blame for crimes you haven't even committed, thanks to
neglectful and/or cruel programming you received in childhood.
If you fail to respond perfectly
to the Waif's needs/wants (which requires you to be a mind
reader), she'll come across so hurt and disappointed,
you'll believe you've committed a heinous act! It doesn't matter
how noble or thoughtful your intentions and gestures were, a Borderline
will exact a pound of flesh from you for not intuiting
her desires or needs, and letting her down. The upshot is, you
will feel horrible about yourself, and that's the intended consequence~
how else could she convince you to jump through all those
hoops of fire, just to please her??
The man-child of a Waif
Mother is anxiously
attached to females he dates, and consistently chooses partners
he thinks will never leave him--or that he won't painfully miss
when they do. The needy/clingy Waif or
emotionally vapid Siren perfectly fits this profile--until
she deserts him for another. This is when his fragile
ego takes a nose-dive, and core abandonment shame is re-triggered.
He may know he doesn't really want this gal--but he desperately
needs to be wanted, to ease the hideously painful shame
he feels from her rejection. This shame was implanted in him
during childhood. The Borderline simply reactivates it.
This issue alone, can send
him into perilous
pain and longing for any woman who has pried the
lid off his Pandora's Box of self-worth injuries. Thus, his frantic,
misguided pursuit to win her back, begins in earnest.
long-standing self-esteem issues, frantically keep trying to bolster
their bruised, battered egos by reminding themselves of how good
looking, well educated or successful they are; "how can this
girl leave Me?" is always their plaintive
cry. But external conditions and attributes don't matter, when
you've felt inferior and empty inside, most of your life.
Borderlines are brilliant
at making you feel shameful and guilty, but the Waif is the most
masterful at playing the Blame Game. You will
be bending over backwards to please her during your relationship,
because the guilt she'll be heaping on you if
you don't, isn't worth all the sleepless nights you'll spend trying
to get back into her good graces, and beating
after your romance has bitten the dust, you will keep trying to
redeem yourself--after all, this relationship failed
because of You, right? Sure, that's what
she's got you believing, so you'll continue your
servitude to her until one of you literally
expires! Aside from that junk tapping directly
into your self-esteem issues, this has crucial ramifications for
any future attachments you may forge. That's right, The
Waif's needs will always have to come first, and the next
Mrs. So-and-So will have to be content with being relegated
to the back seat. Don't be a fool. Get some therapeutic help to
recognize what you did right in that relationship, before
you screw up the rest of your life.
BPD Waif tries to keep you around, just in case she needs a favor--or
wants to reengage you when her rebound guy with a Savior
Complex doesn't pan out. She might even ask you in the midst of
your breakup (regardless of who initiates it), what'll happen
to her, if she "needs" you and you've moved
on and found another! You will simply be used to fill the ghastly
hole in her soul, and continue to be her indentured servant.
DON'T JUDGE A BOOK
BY ITS COVER; READ BEYOND THE FIRST PAGE!
The Borderline Waif might
be a caregiver type with long-held codependency issues.
From the start of this relationship, your needs may have been
very well attended to, and her nature was generous and kind--in
fact, sometimes she gave far more than you felt comfortable
receiving. But as this love affair progressed, you were continuously
made acutely aware of how and when you let her down,
disappointed her or hurt her feelings. Naturally, this made you
feel terrible about yourself, 'cause how could you possibly be
so ungrateful? This may tap into childhood guilt, that involved
trying to please or protect your mom--but painfully coming to
realize that you couldn't. Boyhood shame can drive Herculean efforts
to be a mind reader or mommy for these women
(who lacked solid bonding with their mothers) but no
man is capable of assuming these roles, or healing the archaic
issues that drive her demands.
The enmeshed Caregiver-Waif
often makes statements like; "I'm very proud of you,"
but this relates to parenting deficits within her childhood. Her
need to have heard these confirmations from her mother,
is being transferred onto you, via projection. This means, she's
actually needing what she's bestowing on you, while modeling
appropriate parental support and care: Vicarious
satisfaction is gained by the child who somehow manages to take
better care of his/her parent, than they've managed to receive.
At the very heart of codependency, is the capacity to derive pleasure
from giving what we desperately seek
and need for ourselves! This unhealthy reflex begins when we're
Borderline's mixed messages keep you confused and off-center.
It's not that they behave this way deliberately, but their distorted
perceptions and labile moods make you feel like a horse, who's
constantly having his reins jerked right and left, to where he's
overwhelmed and paralyzed--or furious enough to buck that rider
off his back! You're damned when you react, because a
Borderline seizes that as an opportunity to sanction
her punishing and abandoning behaviors--and you're damned when
you don't react, because you're often forced to flee your disquieting
ambivalence about remaining or leaving, with alcohol or drug abuse,
working longer hours, overeating, etc., just to cope!
that therapeutic professionals are immune to Borderlines? Think
again. Dialogues with personality disordered individuals leave
us all feeling like we need a shower to wash off the
toxic sludge their devaluations and guilt trips leave behind.
The quicker you terminate these conversations, the better.
MATTER, AND HOW YOU'RE AFFECTED BY IT.
Waifs started building survival
skills throughout infancy and childhood. Very early on, they learned
that others responded to them when they appeared hurt, fragile
and helpless. They could seldom get nurturing attention from Mother,
unless they were very sick or bleeding after a fall.
A child at risk for acquiring mood disorders and/or personality
disorders senses very early, that he/she cannot consistently depend
on anyone for their care. Quite often, they'll misbehave
to get negative attention, which helps mitigate feelings of invisibility
and lack of worth or importance to the parent. Some kids actually
fantasize about meeting with a horrible accident--or even
dying, in order to gain some sense of the parent's tender
concern, and feel valued. Could this have also
been true for You? Has it prompted dramatic bouts of crying
when you've felt totally exasperated in this
threats could keep you from confronting her about behaviors you
see as unsavory or dysfunctional, and you'll want to avoid 'rocking
the boat' for fear she may attempt to harm herself. Your tacit,
passive avoidance is never an effective strategy
with a Borderline--whether she's a waif-type or not. If self-harming
threats or actions come your way, you must
remain objective, as you are not equipped to keep someone alive,
if/when they're determined to check out (nobody is--not
even their therapist).
needs to control your emotions. Rather than speaking to you about
genuine feelings of sadness or depression when she's
in need of some soothing, she'll make dramatic, histrionic statements
of wanting to die or do away with herself (to get attention),
which effectively leave you impotent to help her! She will blame
you for not intuiting her needs when
she's feeling fragile--but she doesn't know how to ask you for
comfort, any more than she knew how to ask her mother or father
for it during childhood bouts of deep despair, when fantasies
of killing herself first took hold.
While you're in this relationship
and afterward, this woman keeps projecting her own feelings
of inadequacy/shame onto you. She can't take ownership of her
shortcomings, or see the cracks in her own mirror; she's too fractured
to withstand any self-reflection that might reveal her flaws.
You of course, are a picture screen for her life-long complexes
and frustrations--and she makes sure you know it! You'll often
feel like you're viewing yourself in a Fun House mirror, for her
perceptions of you are grossly distorted. After this
affair ends, she will not consider that she's even partly at fault--and
given her inherent lack of boundaries, might contact your friends
or family members to absolve herself of any blame or shame
for this current outcome! Naturally, she's always The Victim,
and the sad demise of this relationship is all on You. Pretty
Some men have reported a
shocking/sharp decline in their ex's appearance, after a long-term
marriage or affair ends. While this relationship managed to survive
the Waif's resentment and rebellion (as you'd expect from a petulant
child), it might have been the only thing that
kept her relatively stable and on-course. We may be tempted to
speculate that her newfound "freedom" prompted this
psychic/emotional instability, which lead to decompensation--but
in truth, a panoply of contributing factors (like alcohol/drug
abuse) could have played a role. The most apparent signs of deterioration
are significant weight loss, facial eruptions/breakouts, bruises,
cuts or scrapes--and other distress cues, such as poor grooming.
In short, she literally looks waif-like.
This metamorphosis could
tug at your heartstrings, and make it really tough to resist the
temptation to assist her in any/all ways that you think you can,
but this is driven by your inability to feel compassion for yourself--and
that's where our inner work needs to be done. You've spent so
much of your life becoming powerful and in-control, there's been
absolutely no room for vulnerability of any type. In essence,
while you've disconnected from more fragile aspects in yourself,
you're seeking these missing pieces in your Borderline,
to give You a sense of completeness.
BIGGER CLINICAL PICTURE, AND MULTIPLE DIAGNOSES:
Personality Disorder houses a panoply of other diagnosable issues
that disrupt and demolish relationships. Borderlines are often
misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder
because their temperament and moods may fluctuate wildly. Some
individuals should be dual-diagnosed, as mood and personality
disorders frequently coexist. In my opinion, BPD is the broad
umbrella under which other issues usually sit; Attachment Disorder,
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder,
Histrionic Personality Disorder,
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder,
Avoidant Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, etc. Even Anxiety
and Panic Disorders
can be part of the Borderline's symptomology. The hallmarks
of BPD include; desperate
attempts to gain attention, intense/irrational abandonment fears,
lack of empathy, lying, extreme jealousy, poor impulse control,
extramarital affairs, drug/alcohol abuse, hypersexuality, 'crazy-making'
interactions, low self-esteem, rebound relationships, passive-aggression,
cognitive distortion, suicidal ideation, self-harming behaviors,
splitting (love you/hate you), etc.
Many of the Borderlines
I've seen had dual or mixed diagnoses, which made assisting them,
especially challenging. Any cyclical neurological issues
such as Bipolar
Disorders and ADD/ADHD
exacerbated their mood instability, and frequently contributed
to setbacks and regressions. Acute declines generally responded
to temporary, slight adjustments to their meds, but unfortunately
still prompted intense/irrational abandonment fears, self-harming
behaviors, relationship conflicts and suicidal thoughts that erupted
until brain chemistry rebalanced.
Some therapists are acquainted
with personality disorder concerns, but many are not. Surprisingly,
this topic is barely addressed during undergraduate or graduate
course work--yet narcissistic and borderline traits weigh heavily
on societies all over the globe, and play a prominent role in
I'm guessing that because
of this lack of education and/or experience, most clinicians might
fail to recognize The Waif, as she fits a different paradigm
than the more highly reputed, radical/volatile features in other
Borderlines. I can assure you first hand though, The Waif
instantly inspires your sympathy and protection. Initially, you'll
want to help her surmount every life stressor--but before you
know it, you're confronted with problems that are way beyond your
layman's ability to control or manage. This can invoke feelings
of guilt and shame, as you've struggled to repair something
that's irreparable. This is your job as you've come to
interpret it since childhood--but it sets you up for an endless
cycle that triggers feelings of inadequacy, you've tried hard
to outgrow since very early in life.
discovered ways to compensate for these inner deficits, but they've
spawned narcissism in you. It's narcissistic
grandiosity that has you believing that this girl cannot survive
without you. This is a 'leftover' from your childhood with Mother,
and it's needing
to be resolved, so you can make more gratifying and healthy
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
here, to determine if you're in an abusive relationship!
MY BPD LOVER BE RIGHT ABOUT ME?
women: learn about the
Male BPD Waif, (in subsection, THE BOY
WHO CRIED WAIF).
If you've been drawn to this
piece, it's very likely you have rescuing or fixing compulsions.
I strongly suggest you read this
article, for understanding and insights about this shame-based
tendency. My writings are intended to be anecdotal and helpful.
They can assist you with gaining valuable information about yourself,
while offering a blueprint for building healthier attachments.
These materials will not 'cure' you, but you might begin to see
the wisdom in doing some solid inner
work, to help you heal and grow.
may phone for help, but I do not offer online/written
therapy. Only emails under 150 words
are read, due to time constraints. Please be clear/concise, and
expect a straight answer within four to six weeks.