Back in February of this year we published a letter from a worn out young mother (Am I for real?) who could hardly hold her own as she tried coping with her husband’s anger issue. In a follow-up letter, a reader (A long-suffering victim) strongly sympathetic toward this young mother, suggested that the husband’s behavior was symptomatic of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Our second writer also recommended a book on the subject (Stop Walking on Eggshells by Mason and Kreger) that had helped her come to grips with her own husband’s erratic behavior.
The following letter was written by yet another of these tragic, long-suffering wives.
I am a non-Jewish young woman who works with a Jewish family and happens to love reading your articles. I have been married for four years and feel like my marriage is not of G-d but of the Satan. I am writing in reference to the letter “Am I for real?” — which made me realize that no matter your race, your culture or your creed, we all go through the same problems.
I most certainly can identify with this young woman. My husband portrays the same behavior/symptoms as BPD. I have realized for a while that my husband had a problem and thought it was ADHD. I just couldn’t figure it out.
But of course he won’t admit that he has a problem and blames me for every argument or just anything he can blame me for. He’s like a child who does not take responsibility for his wrong actions. He is a very angry, disgruntled, insulting, irrational and disrespectful individual. He scares my children who dislike him immensely and are upset with me for marrying him. My daughter was happy to leave for college last September; she positively hates him and has told him that she does not like the way he treats me and makes me cry.
He professes his undying love for me and yet he treats me like a doormat. He calls me mean names and is verbally abusive. I keep searching myself for faults and wonder why he hates me, yet he says he loves me. I sometimes think of suicide just to be away from him. I ran away once, but he found me.
We have been to therapist/counselors, but it seems to help for only a little while. Then he’s back to being the big, bad, mean wolf again. I don’t even know how to cope anymore, and yes, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells in my home. I will certainly buy this book (recommended by a reader) and see if I can find help and a way to cope before I lose my sanity.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. This column is most helpful, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one going through these issues, like I thought. I actually know other women out there going through this and who are scared and ashamed to talk about it.
Though my husband feels that going to a therapist is just a way for them to make money, I want to go because I need to overcome my fears of having to live like this for the rest of my life, if I have to stay in this marriage.
I am a good person, a good wife and a good mother, and I love life, but sometimes I feel like giving up.
Please daven for me… I need all the prayers for healing and happiness in my life and marriage.
Thank you for your kind words. It is most gratifying to know that this column touches readers beyond the circumference of our Jewish reading circle.
An informative series on the topic of BPD specifically, authored by Simcha and Chaya Feuerman, debuted in the April 29 Family Issues section of this paper. The articles feature an in-depth analysis on a not so cut-and-dried malady. (Readers are cautioned against self-diagnosis and/or reaching a definitive conclusion without the corroboration of a professional therapist.)
My dear reader, you have availed yourself of psychotherapy and yet your agony persists unabated. Your children suffer as well, and you live with a constant fear of your “very angry, disgruntled, insulting, irrational and disrespectful” husband.
Have you ever asked yourself what this man, your husband of four years, offers you besides torment and misery? Does he possess any positive qualities to speak of? Do you still love him (assuming you once did)? Have you a shred of respect left for the man who professes to love you – yet treats you like dirt? What makes you say, “…if I have to stay in this marriage?” (Who says you have to…?)
That only you can provide the answers to these questions goes without saying. In the meanwhile, whenever your instincts tell you that the “big, bad mean wolf” is about to launch one of his stinging verbal assaults, wordlessly remove yourself from his presence. Go for a walk, go on an errand, go visit a friend, just go! Without your tears and obvious distress to feed his rage, his ire will lose its edge; with no fuel added to the ire, the fire will sputter and turn into smoldering ashes.
Living with a Jekyll and Hyde (a person who alternately displays good and evil personalities) is wearing and draining. You say you love life yet have entertained thoughts of giving up on that life. Should Mr. Hyde continue to hide behind the evil Dr. Jekyll, allowing the latter to play front and center despite all the therapy sessions meant to clean up his act, you might want to give some serious thought to reclaiming your sanity, your self-assurance, your self-dignity, and your life . . . before it’s too late.
May G-d grant you strength and the presence of mind to do the right thing. There’s certainly no mitzvah in tolerating an abusive relationship.
* * * * *
We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to [email protected] 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.