The following letters are in response to Am I for real? (Chronicles, February 18)
My Dear Friend,
I could have written your letter. I too am a frum woman, married for many years, with wonderful and healthy children B”H. My husband functions normally to the outside world, but inside the house it’s a different story. He angers easily, rages, has distorted thinking, makes false (and negative) accusations (and believes and acts on them), twists my words, is unstable and so much more.
I began to question my own sanity. I have developed physical and emotional symptoms as a way to cope with the insanity in my home. He can be a terror, yet, at other times, he can be so sweet and loving.
Within the past year, I have done much research on borderline personality disorder and have recognized that my husband suffers from this very serious and complex mental disorder. You must research this condition and see if the behavior/symptoms fit those of your husband. Please read the book Stop Walking on Eggshells by Mason and Kreger. When I read it, lightbulb after lightbulb went off for me; I felt the author was describing all the craziness that goes on in my home.
At the core of the borderline condition is a deep-seated fear of abandonment/rejection. This would explain your husband’s rages when you are not physically available to him, even though the reasons may be totally rational to you and me. People with BPD are not rational. They operate on a purely emotional level and are unable to regulate their emotions.
Since they can hide their craziness from the rest of the world, those who suffer the most are those closest to them. You must get help for yourself since people with BPD are not likely to admit to having a problem. You need to be strong and healthy for your children. Read as much as you can about this disorder, get a therapist who understands what you are going through and begin to reclaim your life.
You are not crazy. You are involved with a severely disordered individual who can bring you down with him. Don’t let it happen.
I wish you much hatzlacha with this very big nisayon, and if you wish to be in touch with me, please do so through Rachel.
A long-suffering victim
I think you overlooked a very important part of her letter. She says that her husband is “constantly losing his temper, screaming, yelling and hitting the kids.”
I grew up with a father like that. He made my mother’s life miserable and we all carry scars from living with a man who often exploded and lashed out, most often for minor things. I remember him going nuts because he thought I put too much coffee in my own coffee cup. Another time he went ballistic because he felt the stream of water was too much while I was washing the dishes.
Something has to be done to protect the children. The woman who wrote the letter needs counseling on how to deal with her husband and the abuses he inflicts on their children. Marriage counseling is important for the marriage, but whether she chooses to do that or speak to a spiritual advisor, someone has to look out for those children.
If the mother cannot discuss intimacy issues with her husband (as when they need to be apart), I highly doubt she is doing much to protect those poor children from their out-of-control father. They are sure to suffer some psychological damage, as I did.
Unfortunately, it is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the root of one’s problem from a single letter with scant information. If the troubled wife will heed our advice and seek professional counsel to help her deal with her problematic marital relationship, its negative impact on their children will be appropriately addressed and dealt with.
Thank you for weighing in with your informative comments, which are obviously based on your own experiences. Experience, as they say, is the best teacher. By sharing yours, you not only help countless others cope more effectively with their own circumstances but also give them strength in the knowledge that they are not alone and that help is within reach.
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We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.Rachel