Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder > Letter from an Adult Child of Cluster B Personality Disorder Parents: The Damage Done

Letter from an Adult Child of Cluster B Personality Disorder Parents: The Damage Done

I received the following letter from a woman who has been following the Shrink4Men blog for sometime now. She sent the note below to share with those of you who are struggling with the choice to stay in your relationship with your abusive, Cluster B (Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder) wife or girlfriend because of your shared children.

This letter confirms what I have long suspected. Under no circumstances is it healthy to subject a child to an abusive parent. Even if you remain in the home to protect your child(ren), they will still be adversely affected by the abuse they witness perpetrated against you. Furthermore, even if your child isn’t being directly attacked, it is a form of abuse to witness their father being abused.

Dear Dr T,

I read your website often.  Many men say they stay with their BPD wives for balance for their children or don’t know if they should stay.  I would like to write and tell them this.  I am a woman who had a father with BPD and the rest of the Cluster B disorders. He had a milder PD of Paranoid Personality Disorder and, in later life, developed some Schizotypal traits.

I am very certain that I am not alone. I made it out with minor problems.  According to some psychologists, all children of BPD’s have some aspect of their disorder.  I am a healthy adult, however, that does not mean that I had a totally normal childhood and in no way did I need or want my father’s psychodrama. It was terrifying at times. I myself can’t figure out why children of any Cluster A or B and some C’s have a problem resolving their feelings.  The answer is not that difficult to resolve.  You have got to decide that you do not deserve or ever asked for their behavior.  All their good qualities are transient. Period. They will alternate with abuse again. Many, and I mean many, years could pass and then some type of abuse will pop up.

Narcissism is the root of all PD’s.  Therefore most people with BPD have NPD as well. They really aren’t like kissing cousins. BPD is just another variation of Narcissism.

If they do apologize, it is important to remember that BPD’s have psychopathy as well. They don’t learn very easily and mean what they’re saying only in that moment. They will quickly twist or decide that you were wrong and blame you when it wasn’t your fault or when you have done something wrong just to abuse you again the same way. They will not look at themselves and have to do this in order to deflect their own self-hate or pain. The BPD activists talk about this aspect of these individuals as if they were discussing a minor matter and expect the victim to just bear with their so-called recovery. This is frightening because their attacks are usually from left field and can open old wounds. You have to leave the relationship in order to totally heal.

I do not love my deceased father.  I am grateful that he taught me right from wrong as some psychopaths do. I am grateful for the good times because I would be splitting if I did not admit the above and it would be wrong. However, what he did to us is unacceptable and just because he was my father does not mean I owe him or have to love him. He chose that behavior and earned the consequence of it.

It is a cultural myth that we owe love to our parents or abusive people. It is actually quite naive to believe that love is a cure-all because BPDs/NPDs had a bad childhood. If we learn to accept abuse from others and give ourselves less than we deserve, then we get into abusive or lousy relationships.  I truly love myself and will not accept an ounce of shit from anybody and have zero tolerance for narcissistic behaviors.  I don’t deserve it and never did. I had to teach myself to stand up for myself and stand my own ground because my parents never did. I never took the victim approach because I wouldn’t let myself be pathetic and become like them. Therefore, to have any sympathy or empathy for a BPD’s crap is simply crazy. It is pathological.  I had to extensively, and I mean extensively, study manipulation both covert and overt as well as PD’s to protect myself so that I could spot and avoid them.

Love does not cure BPD. Pills do not cure BPD. Only the BPD can do it. That will happen when pigs fly. I have studied and followed many BPD’s for years who were treated with all different kinds of therapies. They may lose some aspect of their problem, but there is always a serious part of it that remains and requires still more treatment. I know many that are told they have biochemical illnesses and take pills.  They help some, but not a lot. It is just another way for some psychologist or psychiatrist to buy into their own biochemical delusion and for the BPD to avoid responsibility for themselves and blame it on their biochemistry. Some are made worse by meds.

Get your kids out ASAP. Ask Dr. T for a personalized plan in conjunction with legal help.  She is a trustworthy psychologist. Trust me when I say that I don’t  like many psychologists or psychiatrists because they are largely incompetent, crazy or have serious problems themselves and practice pop or junk science.  Heed her warnings. She is 100 percent right when it comes to these woman. Your children do not deserve what I was put through.

My siblings had serious problems brought out. My sister developed BPD and developed Schizophrenia from the constant stress and chaos. My brother’s Schizophrenia surfaced partly because of the psychological assaults, as did my sister’s. I did not develop Schizophrenia and am now 51. I was just damn lucky. This is how serious BPD Cluster B behavior is. Do not twist my example around and say, “Veronica turned out okay, so my kids will.

You do not know what these crazy people will do or the level of psychopathy they have over a span of time or what new PD they will develop. I have seen that happen many times and most shrinks don’t even mention that. Most shrinks don’t know BPD that well because they don’t work with them, yet they talk about them like they do.  You don’t know what new vice they will pick up or who they will have sex with. In no way do I condone your choice to stay with any PD, yet alone a BPD Cluster B who usually has Paranoid PD as well. It is a very serious form of child abuse and abuse to yourself.

Dr. T is right when she said they go after gifted people who are good. They want to take everything that is good in you and your children. They try to take the good from you because they aren’t capable of it and don’t have it within themselves. They try to destroy what’s good in others in an effort to destroy their own projected self-hate.

The only retaliation is to live well when you meet these people and when they hurt you. Just hope they get what they deserve and go on living well. Don’t stoop to their level or become like them. They hate it because they can’t do that and that is a huge part of their problem with inferiority. They are inferior because they do horrible things and deserve to feel that way. In the end, they set themselves up with their own pathology anyway and get what they deserve. They will do it to themselves and don’t need an enemy because they are their own worst enemy. That I can guarantee you.

Every time you let one get to you somehow you give them your power. That is what they really want—to have you feel and be as bad as them, feel as shitty or as antisocial as they do. If you allow this to happen, then they don’t feel so bad about themselves. They thrive that way. You enable them to continue when you allow them to affect you in anyway or give them anything. Strictly adhere to this until you totally exceed. It may be difficult for some, but it can be done. The reward is that you will have your own mental health back and they will mean nothing to you.  Be careful out there, these disorders are running rampant.

Thanks Again,


This story may not apply to all individuals with abusive, Cluster B parents, but the children of these individuals are impacted by them no matter how much of a buffer you provide.

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Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.


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  1. Amanda
    September 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I have been in a relationship with a man who had all these characterist as described. I have said some of the exact same things to him that was said in this article. He recently tried killing himself and when released from hospital I picked him up. I was reading discharge papers where I came across his diagnoses of character b personality disorder. This is him all summed up. Im scared of what the future holds for us. How do I stop the process or reverse the affects? Help me 28 in love and scared!

  2. jhan6120
    January 23, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Oh man, it really hurt to read this letter. It was bad enough for me to grow up in a violent alcoholic household and deal with the problems that left me. But when I got into a relationship with an undiagnosed BPD woman, I realized my problems were zilch compared to her nightmare.

    Here’s the difference, though; I don’t want to make my problems OTHER PEOPLE’S problems. BPD’s DO. They are not satisfied until you hurt as much as they do. They are Emotional Vampires to the core. I have ZERO sympathy for them, or any other Cluster B’s for that matter.

    As a result of my BPD relationship, I keep a close watch for the following characteristics in women:

    1) Hypersexuality/Promiscuity

    2) Emotional ‘dumping’ way too early in a relationship

    3) Extreme emotional lability

    4) Turbulent and stormy interpersonal relationships

    5) Permanent Victim-itis

    6) Idealization (especially early on)

    7) Poor work history / residential history

    8) Poor social skills (such as the inability to have polite conversation without offending someone)

    9) Obsessive Compulsive behaviors

    10) Histrionics

    I see any of these, and I RUN!! I don’t care who abused or molested them. NOT MY PROBLEM. GOT MY OWN PROBLEMS, THANKS.

  3. Annie
    May 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I agree with the writer, Veronica, that the Cluster B personality disorders are very likely just varying degrees of severity of psychopathy. I also agree that its best for the child of a mother with personality disorder (in particular) to be removed from her care to avoid severe emotional trauma and damage to the child. A mother exhibiting Cluster B traits is virtually guaranteed to do harm to her child earlier in the child’s life, because mothers are still the primary care-givers of infants and young children. When that is not a viable option (divorce, with the non-pd parent getting full physical custody of the child) I have heard mixed opinions about whether its better for the non-pd spouse to remain in the home, or whether its better to divorce, move nearby, and provide one source of emotional stability, nurturing, validation and responsible parenting for the child during visitation. I am the adult child of a Cluster B mother, and she was formally diagnosed with bpd long after I reached adulthood.
    My sister and I both received deep psychological trauma from having someone so severely mentally ill as our primary caregiver. For me, its ptsd, low self esteem, and inability to form normal, long-term, healthy adult love relationships. The public needs to become more aware of this issue: that those with Cluster B pds should NOT be raising children.

  4. TheGirlInside
    April 18, 2011 at 2:03 am


    I’ve been reading Mira Kirshenbaum’s book “Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay.” I like the book, as it asks questions as you go along pertaining to whether the relationship is too good to leave or too bad to stay. It deftly avoids calling certain behaviors abusive, which I appreciate, as for those who aren’t quite ready to accept what they are experiencing as abuse, they may more readily accept that their SO is disrespectful or that as a couple they don’t feel connected, rather than believing they are being abused, which could cause a sudden defiant reaction, and they might then otherwise dismiss the book in its entirety. When you are still with that person, it’s very difficult to the word ‘abuse’.
    Ms. Kirschbaum states that she is a couples counseling and has been for many years. The premise of the book is that if you answer a question a certain way, she will tell you whether most people who answered that question the same way were happier leaving or staying. It helped me realize that my answers had I read the book before leaving my NPD AXH would have ALL been pointing to “you’d be happier leaving than staying.” I already knew that, but it’s nice to get confirmation.
    Additionally, I feel vindicated in my belief that coming from a family of divorce is not necessarily worse than growing up in a house watching parents abuse one another / children, where the parents stay ‘married.’
    For those who have come to believe that they cannot leave for fear of permanently psychologically damaging their children, page 199, third paragraph:
    “It’s important not to overstate the negative impact of divorce on children. Pyschologically speaking, the studies that show the greatest negative impact of divorce on children delve into the psyches of children of divorced parents without delving into the psyches of comparable children of comparable parents who did not divorce. So when these studies drew their conclusions they were essentially comparing the real children whose parents had divorced with an ideal image of children whose parents had an ideal relationship.”

    What she’s saying is that the studies compare children of divorced (dysfuntional) parents with those in ‘intact’ homes wherein the parents are relatively happy in their marriages.

    A couple paragraphs down the page, she continues:
    “If your relationship is too good to leave in spite of its problems, then you and your children will be happy if you work on the relationship and make it as good as it can be. However, if the conditions in it are so bad that most people in your situation said they were happy they left, then you and your children will be happy moving on to new and better lives.”

    I wonder, then, if the damage done to children whose parents divorce has more to do with the fact that their parents got divorced, or with the crap that was going on in the home before the divorce, that was merely magnified during the divorce.

    It also makes me wonder if we all rebel against our parents. I know of a couple who are staying together largely because they don’t want to make the ‘mistake’ their parents made by getting divorced. I wonder if that is why I was drawn to men who I would eventually divorce…to subconsciously make sure I didn’t make the ‘mistake’ of staying married to someone who made me miserable, as my parents did.

    Food for thought,

  5. Kimanian@Mac.com
    January 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    We have an adopted daughter that is BPD. She has attempted to kill herself and one of our younger children as well as myself. She has just been diagnosed with Cluster B. Isms is currently in a residential placement, and continually acting out. Never taking accountability for her actions. It is always domaines elses fault, never her own. I have been so fearful that she will follow through with her threats. OT seems that no one will take her seriously. She has been arrested 5 times for assault and battery, at the age of 12.

    Any recommendations on how to move forward.

  6. New.Wife
    November 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    As the new wife of a man whose ex-wife has BPD, it has been really helpful reading through the articles and comments on this site. Thank you so much for all the info and real talk. My husband stayed married to his ex-wife for 14 years because of his (and our) belief that divorce wasn’t right but in certain circumstances and he didn’t feel like he fit those “requirements.” Only through marriage counseling (which he insisted on) did he figure out that all that was happening was abuse–emotional and physical. She ended up leaving him and filing for divorce when he began to set boundaries and leave the house with their children when she became violent or uncontrollable. She also had another guy in the wings and lives with him right now. I’m so thankful that my husband went to marriage counseling because it was only in the counseling setting that his ex-wife was willing to admit to physically abusing him and that he wasn’t doing anything. It is because of this admission that he now has full residential custody of the children. However, the court system was horrible and the process took so much longer than it should have. The guardian ad litem ended up protecting the mother by refusing to check counseling records (he didn’t want to violate her privacy) until my (now)husband put it all on the line and told him that he would give up all rights if it turned out that the counselors said he was lying. When the g.a.l. finally did conference with the many counselors that they had seen, he learned the truth and the court gave temporary full custody to my husband and his ex-wife was put on supervised visitation. Now they have joint legal custody with a joint parenting agreement and he has the residential custody. Well…this woman is causing so many problems–particularly since the beginning of summer. I’m wondering if my husband getting married and her children now having another woman taking care of them triggered it. She has been threatening him all summer with mediation because he wasn’t doing “something” and every time he asked her for objective facts so that he might give a good-faith effort to resolve the conflict, she would reply with statements like, “I don’t have to tell you anything,” “You know what you are doing!,” etc. Finally he called her bluff and identified several violations of the J.P.A. and issues in their communications as well as email and text mail exchanged between the two to support his claim. If you read through the emails and texts, you see a woman who claims to be genuine and cooperative, but then spews filth and false accusations at my husband and now me (I somehow did something to get on her bad-list). Anyway, she responded much later than the deadline for a good faith effort and denied everything or explained it away. She also had someone help her draw up a document of critiques and demands–many of which have no part of the J.P.A. and a mediator wouldn’t even address. Of course this all has been taking up so much of my husband’s time and has deprived my step-children of important time with their father. It’s also been horrible to see how she has now begun a campaign to convince their oldest son (he’s 11) that his father is lying and trying to hurt the relationship with her. She’s been very inappropriate with talking about details of the divorce and her own abuse as a child, and through this, she is twisting his memories and beliefs. He now is convinced that nothing ever happened (although his statements contradict–“she isn’t breaking anything anymore” and “I don’t remember any of it.”) This 11 year old boy has gone from being reluctant to talk on the phone with her or not caring if his mother didn’t show up for visitation to needing to talk to her every day for long periods of time and calling her at 10 or 11 at night because he is feeling anxious. We are bringing him to therapy now and are hoping that this will help, but it breaks my heart to see a child having to deal with such adult and confusing issues. And it also breaks my heart that my wonderful husband is being demonized to countless people while this woman acts like a victim. Especially since she is drawing a child into her web. We are trying so hard to be a good home for the children, one with boundaries, limits, and unconditional love, but it’s so hard to not be able to protect the children from their mother.
    Anyway, thanks again for this website and everyone’s comments and stories–it’s been so helpful to know that we are not alone.

  7. September 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    As the daughter of an NPD mother I can say being around her made ME a target for pathologicals most of my life. And about age 46 I finally learned – you MUST leave in order to heal. There’s no other way.

    I totally agree that sticking around ‘for the kids’ is the worst decision ever. Get yourself and your kids as far away from them as possible.

    WONDERFUL post!

  8. Jason
    September 10, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Welston….I hope you read this and everything else has said as far as advice. Your story sounds alot like my personal hell. Let this sink in, use what other people have said as the 3rd party lookin in. It took my friends and family months to stay on top of me to get me to open my eyes.

    Do one thing first, keep it in your pants my friend. My mom told me once way back when that I have a job as a father to pick a good mentally stable woman to have children. Its my job to protect my future sons/daughters. Not only do you have a duty to your unborn kids, YOU do not want ties with this woman if it comes to divorce! I married a BPD/NPD woman who took the victim role whenever I stood up to her. There was a time last summer when she wanted to pay someone to mow the yard. We were strapped for cash and I viewed it as unnecessary. I made up a budget on paper to show her that we were scraping by as it was. It wasn’t meant to shame her or “shove it in her face” as she kindly put it in a rage. Yes, I got it broke off in my rear for trying to show her that we weren’t made of money.

    I got punched and when I called her on it, I got the response of “well I just felt like it.” This was after buying expensive jeans for her after my son was born because she said she felt fat. I could tell it really depressed her so I tried doing something nice so she would feel better. I got punched all the way home from the hour long ride from the mall.

    I totally dig you want a wife and kids. As did I. That’s why I ignored her unbelievable behavior (yes the red flags were there from the first date) and married her. I’m sure God didn’t expect this for your life. God just doesn’t work that way. He wants better for you, but you gotta do the work of cutting out the poison before He will give you the gift of someone better.

    Somehow this toxicity becomes addicting. I’m still trying to figure out why a part of me is addicted to being treated like a shoe.

    Break the cycle my friend. Read what others have written. There is nothing but pain, regret, and sorrow if you continue to live like this. You cannot change this person. They will be a victim no matter what and tear into you as a result. The only way you can get someone to change is to make them feel their own pain. That is cutting all ties to you have to this person, let them find someone as screwed up as they are. You only let someone treat you bad if you let them.

    She divorced me. It was the best thing she could ever do for me.

  9. Freedom
    September 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I’ve read this post several times, and its been difficult every time. It brings back a lot of memories about my father that i wish to stay hidden. And yet, each time i read it i feel compelled to write, but haven’t until now.

    My father – God rest his soul – was a text book case of NPB/BPD. He was a police officer for years, and i think he took the job to satisfy his God complex. Keep in mind that i have the utmost respect for law enforcement and praise the job that they do because it is a job that i know i couldn’t do, and my post is not representative of police officers. But the job allowed him to exert power over others, to stand as judge and jury out on the street – the late 70 to mid 80s, when he could get away with stuff like that. He was one part the father in Prince Of Tides, one part Archie Bunker (without the laugh track) because he was the most bigoted person i’ve ever met, one part Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day. His answer to everything was “might makes right” and discipline. If you can’t teach the child, then you can at least beat it into him so the child WILL learn one way or the other. It was literally the school of hard knocks – mentally, emotionally, and physically. And he didn’t discriminate, he took it out on the entire family.

    The attacks on me were bad enough. The times he took it out on my mom were horrendous to me, because she was so kind and sweet and undeserving of any of it. As a child i remember him screaming at me for something (that part i don’t remember) and my mom coming to my aid, telling him to leave me alone and not be so hard on me. She’s in the kitchen with her hands full of dishes when he runs up to her and grabs a handful of hair and yanks it out of her skull. Then he runs back to me holding this handful of blond hair that belonged to my mom, shoves it into my face and screams “see this you little f–ker? see this?!?!?! THIS is what you made me do. This is all YOUR fault!!!”. I was mortified that he would blame it on me (even as a child i had more sense than him), but i was devastated that he would take it out on my mom so horribly after she came to my defense.

    I have a lifetime of examples like this, but i think one is enough. My dad with relationships was like Godzilla going thru Tokyo. If it wasn’t all about him then it soon would be, and there would be wreckage in the wake. To see my parents fight even when i wasn’t somehow involved made me literally shake in my skin. What would he do to her this time? Is there any way i can prevent this? I quickly learned to be a good liar, and be able to come up with any story i could think of – on the spot – that he would buy just to make the abuse stop. It took me years to overcome that ability. The strange thing is, he would look me straight in the eye and scream at me about how he couldn’t tolerate a liar in the house, yet forced us to lie on the spot to avoid being beaten or verbally assaulted. Sometimes ya just gotta appreciate the ironies of life. But the times he abused my mom left more scars than when he abused me.

    But the greatest irony of it all is… i never became him. No matter how hard he tried to get me to “be a man” and be more like him, the more he became an example of what i didn’t want to be… what i would not be. I would never hit a woman nor a child, and could never fathom ever being that mad nor doing that to someone i love. I treat people with respect, even when i totally disagree with what they’re saying or doing. But i do try to stay my distance from poisonous people. If i can’t, then i do stand my ground and try my best not to sink to their level, which is not an easy thing to do given the buttons they know to push. Its unfortunate, in my father’s case, that he had to die in order to find some sustainable measure of inner peace. And perhaps the final irony of it all was that after all the abuse he rained down upon me and made me watch as he hurt other people… i was the one he trusted to make decisions over his life when the time came. I did it with a heavy heart, but with love, honor and respect. Perhaps that is the proudest thing i’ve ever done.

    • September 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Freedom.

      I like your attitude and your comment, and the post, struck a few chords with me.

      Like you, I’ve read this post a few times and have had some thoughts that I started to type on a few occasions however, abandoned for different reasons.

      My own father, who died a number of years back, was never physically abusive towards my mother or, in terms of how “physical abuse” might have been defined at the time, me and my sister.

      He was emotionally abusive to both of us … seemingly having some desire to make us feel as badly about ourselves as possible.

      Of course, neither of us recognized this at the time, as the term “emotional abuse” … if it even existed … wasn’t anything I heard of until years after my 60s/70s youth.

      And if the term had been commonly mentioned in my early years, I don’t know whether I would have recognized it as being applicable to my family, as although I resented my father’s belittling comments and, in my view, often unfair decisions, etc…. like I assumed most kids did and do … I thought what happened in my home was “normal” and pretty much the same in other homes.

      At the same time, from my child and teen perspective, my father seemed to be accepted as a “normal” person by non-family members who “knew” him and seemed to be liked and respected by at least most. Of course, I don’t know what these people really thought … so my view of the matter was just how things came across to me at the time.

      Whether I’m right or wrong, I feel I came to terms many years back with the various less than desirable impacts on me of my father’s behaviour and had an okay relationship with him when he died.

      I don’t think about him much these days and when I do it is without much in the way of emotions such as affection or anger.

      However, when I started reading up on PDs a few months back … first in respect of my mother-in-law, then recognizing my wife and some other relatives in discussion on this and other sites … eventually he popped into my mind.

      In retrospect, I am quite sure he had a personality disorder … most likely NPD. Among other things, his world was most definitely “all about him” and while being quite communicative about the effecty of other people’s actions and words on his feelings, never seemed to acknowledge/understand that other people had feelings that his actions and word harmed. Nor did he ever seem to feel anything he did was “wrong”.

      One example to illustrate his way of thinking happened in my mid-teens. I thought it was insane then and still do now.

      I fractured a bone in my foot playing baskeball with friends and had to wear a walking casr for a few weeks. At the time one of my chores was mowing the lawn, using a puch mower that took some effort to push. When mowing day arrived, my father mentioned that I needed to get this done.

      I pointed out that I was wearing the cast and, given this, didn’t think mowing the lawn was a good idea.

      He thought it was and seemed to fid the situation rather humourous.

      So, I mowed the lawn and of course broke the cast in several places.

      When I somewhat disrespectfully, e.g. “are you happy now?”, pointed this out to him, he blew up at me and, as I recall, grounded me for a few days due to my “smart mouth”, or some such thing.

      Needless to say, there was never any indication or acknowledgement from him that he made any sort of mistake.

      As concerns the push mower, I suggested on several occasions that he buy a gas or electric mower and his “humorous” response was always “I don’t need one, I have you”. Of course, shortly after I left home and he was left with the mowing responsibility, he bought an electric mower.

      A real helluva guy.

      At this point in my life, understanding my father had a PD is for the most part just an interesting note in the pages of what is for me a pretty much closed book.

      As a youth, my father left me feeling like nothing I ever did was or would be “good enough”. I have no memory of him ever telling me he was proud of me and basically one memory of he and I having fun together on our own.

      I don’t usually discuss this because, as I mentioned, I feel I came tro terms with my feelings in this regard many years ago and because I don’t to come across as a “whiner” crying about what their parents did forty years ago. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but, that’s just the way I … and I suspect many other males … feel.

      The bottom line about my father is that he was essentially an asshole whose life did no one, including himself, any good and produced significant harm to others.

      Which is ironic as I can’t remember many other people I’ve come across who, from my understanding today, so desperately wanted approval and respect from others and to be seen as “do good” by his peers, etc.

      I’d say that without a doubt my father’s words and actions had negative impacts on my life and I did have a number of “challenges”, e.g., alcohol abuse, lack of direction, etc., and bitterness in my late teens and early twenties.

      My respect for my father dissipated … never to return … in my teens as my own knowledge and experience grew and I came to realize that he was in essence an ignorant … never having read more than one or two books in his adult life and doing little to gain any real knowledge or wisdom … hypocrite or delighted in lecturing anyone who would listen … or in my case, be forced to listen … to his views on how others could “improve” themselves, etc.

      I also came to recognize that he had never done anything similar to the “expectations” he had for me, e.g., if I received a “B+” in a school subject, he’d be “disapponted in me” for not getting an “A” … while he himself had left school in grade 10 and had never, based on accounts from other relatives, been much of a “scholar” himself.

      Part of my coming to terms with my own feelings about him and his impact on me was simply recognizing that there was no reason for me to be concerned about having often “diappointed” someone for who I had no respect ss a human being and who’d done nothing of consequence … or anything close to what they demanded from others … themselves.

      The other thing I realized was that while parents obviously exert significant control and influence of their children’s lives, thinking, self-image, etc. while the children are growing up at home, the only person who had any control … other than what might be surrendered or given to others … over me, my thinking, self-image, etc. when on was an adult on my own was me.

      This being the case, it seemed to me that in respect of any part of my life and self that made me unhappy or dissatisfied, my choices were to sit around blaming my father and feeling sorry for myself or doing something … regardless of how difficult it might be … to change whatever the “problem” seemed to be.

      As well, it seemed to me that living my life feeling crappy about myself and/or being bitter and unhappy as a result of my life with dad basically let him “win”.

      Having learned a bit more the past few months about PDs, I better understand now that he was, either consciously or not, projecting his own insecurities about himself and feelings of inadequacy, etc. onto me and my sister.

      I decided years ago, before knowing anything about PDs, that I wasn’t willing that let his influence have that type of control over my own life.

      I’d be rather naive to think nothing my father did affected me. Obviously I ended up with a PD wife.

      However, I recognized years ago that I can’t really determine where the “me” that is a result of my life experiences, which include my father, ends and the “me” that was going to be “me”, regardless of anything I experienced, begins.

      So, maybe I ended up with a PD wife at least partially as a result of the influence my father had on my childhood and youth and maybe I ended up, and stayed with, with a PD wife because of other aspects of just “who I am” and would have been regardless of who the parents were who raised me.

      I spent a lot of time thinking about this years ago however, eventually realized I’d never find all the “answers” and that these were at any rate largely irrelevant. What mattered was deciding how I’d address situations or my way of doing things that I wasn’t satisfied with and how I could avoid falling into the same “pattern” again … which involved considerable introspection and figuring out exactly what it was I wanted for myself in life and what I had to do to get it, and what I was willing or had to live with and how I could best cope in doing so.

      I’m still learning and working to improve parts of my self and life I see as needing some work … and expect I’ll be doing this until the day I depart this mortal coil … and accepting things I know aren’t likely to change.

      Overall those, I’m pretty satisfied with myself as a person and with my life and, like yourself, happy that I’m not my father and never will be … at least in the negative aspects of who they were.

      In this regard though, I found one long-lasting fear my father left me with … given the documented fact that “abuse” is often passed from generation to generation … was that I might end emulating his abusive behaviour.

      And while I haven’t in the major ways, I have caught myself doing so in minor ways, e.g., “humorous” sarcastic or, at the end of the day, belittling comments directed at my kids.

      Anyway, I know now I will never be like him and that is a blessing. I feel okay about myself and he didn’t win or control my life.

      On the other hand, my sister comes across to me as pretty much being a “professional victim”, spending years hopping from one therapist to another and various “new age” and/or “spiritual” schools of thought to deal with what she sees as the damaging influence of our father on her life.

      From my perspective, most of what she has done through the years to “heal”, as she’d put it, the “damage” only has the effect of keeping her various grievances … whether justified or not … grievances about our father fresh in her mind, rendering her incapable of ever moving on.

      I’ve run across more than a few people in my life who claim that all they want is to “be happy” but whose decisions always seem to be on the side of whatever is most likely to cause them grief. I see my sister as being one of these.

      Of course the other side of the equation was mom.

      Mine, like yours, was very loving and always made me feel good about me.

      I think that really helped me avoid being sucked into my father’s reality.

      Of course, there were a number of occasions in my youth when I felt rather resentful that my mother didn’t stand up to my father on my behalf in respect of some of the his comments and decision in respect of me.

      However, though a strong person herself, she was part of the “father knows best” parenting generation and had a strong belief in working to maintain a harmonious home, so she generally passively, if not actively, supported him.

      And the truth was that my father had a way of making things look and sound like he was simply “doing what was best” and making decisions for the best and the right reasons.

      From what I’ve seen in my life, most people are pretty good at identifying “stupid” decisions made by other and judging what other people should do or should have done, without necessarily being able to do the same themselves or going off and making their own “stupid” decisions in their own life.

      I’ve certainly made enough dumb decisions in my own life and am way past judging others for theirs.

      I’ve always loved and respected my mother and decided years ago that I wanted our relationship to be based on this, rather than my judging her or her decisions and haranguing or rejecting her due to some … never able to be substantiated … belief on my part that my life would have been better if she’d taken us and left my father, particularly as she had no financial resources or any family or other supports that would have enable her to do so even if she had believed there was a strong reason to do so.

      Which brings me to Veronica’s post, all of which I agree with in fact or principle.

      In a perfect world, I’d agree that any parent living with a spouse who abuses them and/or the kids should take the kids and leave.

      That being said, in a perfect world, people would recognize and leave abusive personalities long before children enter the picture.

      Obviously though, it isn’t a perfect world.

      The comments on this blog seem to support the notion that father’s who leave a PD spouse are likely not going to end up with custody of their children.

      So for fathers the only realistic choices would often seem to be to leave on their own and attempt to live a saner life and hopefully have some positive influence on their kids or remain in the marriage to shield to whatever extent the kids from the PD spouse’s often bizarre “reality”.

      In my own view, if there is physical or sexual abuse going on in the home, the non-abusive parent should just take the kids and leave.

      Emotional abuse seems to me a bit dicier to deal with, particularly for fathers with PD spouses who may appear “normal” to most others and can control themselves when they want to, e.g., in front of a judge.

      I honestly can not imagine any world in which an individual with a personality disorder can ever be a “good parent” in terms of the “values” their words and behaviour pass onto their children.

      I think that for fathers, based on the reality that they will likely not end up with the kids, there isn’t any one size fits all solution when it comes to a spouse whose abuse is limited to “emotional”.

      My own decision was to stay because I just couldn’t see myself leaving the kids to my wife’s tender mercies. I’m not saying this was the right decision, just that it was mine in my particular circumstances.

      At the end of the day, there’s probably no decision that all involved are guaranteed to see as “right”, e.g., if you leave without the kids, at some point you’ll likely be castigated by them for leaving and/or leaving them with a psycho … if you leave with the kids before they realize their other parent is nuts, you’ll likely hear later that they “needed” the other parent, etc.

      Either way, the kids may see themselves as psychologically “damaged” by your decision.

      So while I definitely agree in priciple with Veronica that kids should be removed from the clutches of a PD parent, or parents, ASAP, I’m not sure that for fathers dealing with a PD spouse whose undesirable behaviour is restricted to emotional abuse this will always be a realistic option and in my view the decision for fathers to stay or leave in this situation has to be made on a case by case basis.

      Anyway, Freedom, I’m glad to hear that you came out of things okay … or at least as “okay” as any of us are.

      And thanks Veronic for the great post.

  10. Brian
    August 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Thank you Dr. Tara for posting this letter!

    It was very helpful for me and my family to read.

    Veronica make a number of great points and shares her experiences that are so helpful for me as a father of two sons, recently divorced from a BPD/NPD/PD ex-wife in Michigan. I have always wondered how children of parents with a PD or multiple PD’s have felt both growing up and realizing as a young adult or adult how ill or how evil (depending on how you look at it) their parent was…..

    I am currently working diligently to spend as much time as I can with my two sons, even though I do not have custody (here in West Michigan custody is typically granted to the mother unless she tries to kill herself and/or physically harm them).

    Any further insight, experience and advice in the area that can be shared, will be most welcomed by myself.

    When will the healthcare, mental healthcare and legal communities wake up to the fact that men and woman with a major PD issue are a danger to their children and their children’s future?!


  11. BIG HURT
    August 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    It just amazes me that people,even after seeing all the red flags from the very beginning,will go on and marry someone like this and try to make a life with them. I mean,I know it all stems from childhood issues,but come on!! Maybe a new approach should be taken,such as,not sleeping with these individuals for a long period of time and courting them,until you really get to know what makes the person you like tick. That way,you fall “In Love” for the right reasons instead of the wrong. Hitting you??? The first hit..and you should calmly walk out the door and call her back on the 12th of NEVER. Just my opinion. I’ve had nothing but crazy women in and out of my life,but as time has gone on,and with each new prospect,the less tolerant I have become of the B.S. After 3 weeks with the last one,she told me we needed to get married and that she wanted a relationship where,when one of us dies,the other one follows shortly thereafter..HUH?? What did you say your name was again? Flattering to someone with a fragile ego,but guys..don’t fall for this B.S. When she told me we needed to get married,and we aren’t going to find anyone else like us at our age(39),I had to laugh and walk away. A few weeks later,I was in court filing for an Order of Protection/Restraining order.. Scary stuff. Just look at it this way,she’s not the last woman on the planet.

  12. Mike
    July 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Tara it would be fun to see the Bpd´s rationalizations (emails), maybe we could see how they distort things…

  13. Chris
    July 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    It is CRITICAL that women participate in this site and the bigger discusion how some aspects of feminism have destroyed family structure.

    Some women Dr T definetely being one of them show that some women do understand the plight of good fathers and husband who just had the bad luck of choosing a bad partner.

    The world went too far in swaying to make up and in some ways I feel even punished for thing my forefathers did with regard to domination of women.

    Their needs to be balance and will my voice being a male ever be heard … no. But when other women say THIS IS WRONG they are almost forced to listen and the arguement that we hate women does not work on another woman.

    This site also has taught me that not all women are bad at all. Their are still women out their that care want the best for all and care for somebody besides themselves.

    I thank the good Dr and all women on this site. You gals have shown me their is hope after all.

  14. Welston
    July 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Here is an incident that I recently mentioned. Tell me what you think.

    Last night, my wife arrived home after I did. I was in another room attending to some business when I heard her yelling. I couldn’t understand her given the distance, so I came to the room where she was located. She said in a very loud, angry tone, “Can you please not stand there and get the groceries for me”, as though I knew that she had picked up groceries on the way home from work. As I went to the garage to get the groceries, I hear her yelling through the door from the house to the garage, “SHUT THE DOOR” in a loud, irritating tone, as she had accidentally let the cat out into the garage, and I had not closed the garage door, since she had not closed it, and since I didn’t want the hatchback to her car or the garage door to be damaged if it were to try to be shut. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have had much room to squeeze in and get the groceries. Still, I shut the door and squeezed me way in between the car’s trunk and the garage door to get the groceries.

    Upon getting the groceries to the kitchen, she presents me with a utility bill, and it shows that the bill has increased two-fold since last month. She said, “You’re going to pay it. I’m not going to pay it. I need a little help”. As a couple, we both have our bills to pay, and it has been this way since we were married. I have no problem helping her pay a bill if she truly doesn’t have the money, but I didn’t like her dictating that I pay the entire bill, as I pay a majority of the other expenses of the house, while she mostly pays the utilities.
    For a good long while, I’ve wondered how she can run through money so fast, despite the fact that she gets paid less. I’ve wondered such because she only makes thirty percent less than myself, but has only about forty percent of the monthly expenses, indicating that she’d still come out on top. I have asked her to show me her expenses, not as a method of control, but because I truly want to understand why she has had difficulty for such a long time. I realize that she has monthly furloughs, but that only highlights that she was in an even better financial position than myself, according to the points made earlier.
    After hearing that she wanted me to pay the entire bill, I asked her if we could look at her finances, because I didn’t understand, and because it didn’t make sense to me. I told her that I didn’t want to be crapped on given that I already pay a majority of the bills, relative to salaries and expenses. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said this last part, but it’s how I felt. Upon hearing this, she exploded in rage, telling me “F You”, not once, but dozens of times. She started throwing things around, and she balled up the bill. She then went on to say, “F this. F it to hell. I’m done. I’m tired of you treating me like crap, when all I wanted was a little help”. She basically went on to say that she was going to transfer the few utilities in her name over to my name, or to disconnect the service, and that I had a choice. She also said that she was leaving, and started to pack, but then stopped, claiming that she doesn’t have enough money at this time, but that she’s getting out when she does”. She claimed that she abdicating her responsibility, and that it was now all on me. In the process, she punched me on my arm. On two previous occassions, in the car while driving of all places, she has punched me, simply for disagreeing with her and telling her not to get all high and mighty on me. She belittles me for having different points of view on social and political issues, and claims that I’m not the man who God wants me to be.

    Seriously, when she gets like this, I feel like she’s a monster, and it is very unsettling to my spirit. I’ve been anxious in the relationship a long time, have prayed that God not send us children if it’s not right. I’m seriously scared of the future and the feeling of being trapped, but I try to be a good man, one on Godly principles and to honor my vows. Somehow, though, I feel that she doesn’t respect me. Am I perfect? Definitely not. Do I forget to do things I say that I’m going to do? I do, but I eventually get around to it, just not in her time frame, and that’s what’s bothered me so much. She expects me to do things that she wants done, when she could do it herself, and if I don’t do them in her timeframe, she gets furiously mad. I don’t think that this is what a relationship is supposed to be about.

    That’s the thing, I feel trapped. She claims that she feels trapped. However, I’ve been willing to work on the relationship, and I never resort to violence or behavior of the sort that she commits. I feel like I can’t win with her, as she doesn’t seem reasonable at all. She finds something to belittle me over. It usually is something relatively minor that doesn’t relegate the types of responses I get. She acts in a manner that a rational person would only act to severe offenses such as murder, theft, or even adultery. Yet, simply for having a different opinion, I receive such comments.

    My entire life, I’ve dreamed of a family, and wished and prayed for a good spouse. Sad to say, my wife doesn’t treat me in a manner that I feel is respectful. She has her good times, but regardless of the distance between episodes, whether every other day, as it was early in the marriage, or now once a week to twice per month, the intensity of the behavior doesn’t always change. As in the above episode, it was just as explosive as it was in the earlier days of marriage.
    My wife never admits any fault, and she rarely apologizes. Yet, she always wants me to apologize for something in which I never intended to be taken in the manner that she takes.

    I really have wanted a good, loving wife, and to raise well-balanced children. I really want kids, but I can’t see myself bringing them into the world in such a situation, when I myself don’t know if I could stand the relationship. I feel time and opportunity slipping away, as I’m getting older. I don’t want to do the wrong thing. I want to honor my vows. However, being with her makes me tense and filled with anxiety.

    A little information. My wife witnessed her mother being verbablly and physically abused by her father as a child. Even during our visits, I’ve witnessed him verbally calling her mother a bitch, in front of me. I believe that my wife has internalized this hurt, and uses it against me, perhaps as a mode of protectionism, so she ends up abusing me in the process. Her brother has abused his wife on numerous occassions, and she has threatened to leave, but they have several kids, and she feels trapped. My wife’s own mother has told me, after her husband has degraded her, that her “life is a living hell”. She’s lived with it for nearly forty years.

    **I welcome others to provide me with advice, as I am truly needing the words of others and different individuals perspectives on what I’ve said”.

    • Mr. E
      July 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      Sound intolerable to me! As difficult as it is, I suggest you get out. Life is too short to spend it dealing with that kind of garbage.

      It sounds to me like you have no problem expressing your needs, and she explodes when you do. That’s toxic for you.

      • Welston
        July 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm

        Early in the marriage, I tried to be nice, but I only ended up letting her walk all over me, and the resulting behaviors occurred more often. Today, while not occurring as often, they can be as explosive at times.

        I must say, everything that I’ve had to deal with has literally destroyed much of the intimate feelings that most people have for their spouse. I simply feel little to no arousal for her on most occassions.

    • August 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm

      “I welcome others to provide me with advice, as I am truly needing the words of others and different individuals perspectives on what I’ve said”

      Not trying to be trite here, Welston.

      Try re-reading your comment with a deteched, third-party perspective and think about what your advice would be if a different person had written it.

      I’d suggest you definitely don’t want to bring children into your present marriage and should be planning how to exit it. It will only become worse and more difficult to extricate yourself if children enter the picture.

      As to your wife’s childhood experiences, people have choices and if a person’s choice is to become the abuser after witnessing abuse, you don’t want or need to be around them and don’t need to martyr yourself in some effort to understand or help them.

      Of course, they may try to convince you that you somehow owe it to them to do so but, you don’t.

    • Me
      March 19, 2017 at 7:06 am

      I know this is a really old post and I hope things worked out for you. I can’t say if your wife has BPD or not, but either way, it’s not ok for a person to treat a spouse how your wife treated you. A person should not hit their spouse, shout obscenities at their spouse, or treat their spouse in a disrespectful manner.

      I’m a firm believer that people should not marry those who they differing political views with, and studies support this idea. Same deal with finances. Both people need to be on the same page with respect to their money management philosophies, and if you are going to keep finances separate, then I think both should still have access to the other’s budget and expenditures….that’s just my opinion.

  15. D
    July 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Boy’s schools have female teachers, female staff and female visitors. Women’s shelters have male staff, counselors, etc. So far what we’ve seen here is in the frame of female visitors, I don’t think it infringes on the nature or purpose of the site or forum. I think it’s instructive too both for people of the opposite gender and for people who’ve bought into an ideological prism of mysandry to spend time here and at least have exposure to the broad fallout of shutting of 1/2 the human community.

Comment pages
  1. December 2, 2010 at 10:49 am
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  3. August 20, 2010 at 4:13 am
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