I know that dealing with me and my depression and anxiety has been hard, and given his recent breakup with Tanya, I was feeling bad for Lou. From his perspective, all of the focus of this depression is on me, when, I agree, he is also affected. So, I went to the bookstore looking for something written in support of the significant other in a relationship where one person was diagnosed as depressed. I actually did find a book on the subject. It wasn’t as much sympathetic support to the other person as I’d hoped to find for Lou. It was more designed to help them understand what was going on with the illness, treatments, and recovery. I bought the book anyway and gave it to him while he was sitting at his new, Mennonite hand-made dark cherry desk, tapping away on his bugged PC in his home office with a cozy blaze in the gas fireplace. He briefly scanned the front and back of the book and put it aside without cracking it open.
I didn’t give him the other book I bought that day. In fact, I was scared to even bring it home, and kept it hidden in my laptop case inside a bag. I couldn’t wait to have time alone to actually read the entire text. He had been telling me lately that he never knew how I was going to react to anything anymore, and that he had to walk around on eggshells all the time. I read the book title on the binding, Stop Walking on Eggshells, so I pulled it off the shelf, and read the subtitle on the cover: taking your life back when someone you care about has borderline personality disorder. I had never heard of such a thing and didn’t know if it applied to me or not. Who knew, maybe I had that too. As I read the back cover of the book, I began to realize that it did apply to me and opened the book to read on. I was clearly not a borderline, however, I began to realize I was possibly a non-borderline. I sat cross-legged on the floor in the aisle of the psychology section right in the spot where I had found that small blue covered paperback. Anyone looking at me probably saw my jaw dropped open and my eyes popping from their sockets as I quickly read chapter one’s case studies and checklists for the first time. I was blown away, as I mentally answered, “Yes” to question after question on the list. I had stumbled on the nature of both Lou’s personality and my own. But I don’t believe it was an accident. If I can believe that I was meant to be where I am today, then I can easily believe that I am meant to find my way out as well.
My legs went numbly asleep from no circulation, but my brain was shocked awake as it first occurred to me that this was possibly an explanation. That it wasn’t just that I was weak and submissive and depressed against his strength, power, and control. I had gotten far enough along in the book to realize that it wasn’t a revelation I could share with Lou. Pins and needles stabbed my feet after I finally got up from the floor and walked to the counter to pay cash for my two book purchases. I felt like I was buying porn and I wanted no record. I tossed the receipt in the trash outside the store, separated the books, and hid the Eggshells one deep in my work bag until Lou went on an overnight trip and I could read the entire text.
When I finally had time alone, I was up all night, and could not put the book down. It was good news and bad news. I believe I know what the problem is. But I do not see any solution. And I read to the end of the book. Even without a solution, I am happier than I have been in years. It’s really not all my fault. I know I’ve bitched and complained about Lou, but still felt like the problems between us were ones that I should have been able to solve by being more of what he needed. What I am learning is that it is impossible for any mortal to be what he needs.
I was hooked when I read the book’s back cover:
Stop Walking on Eggshells
✓ Do you know someone with Borderline Personality Disorder? (I don’t know what that is)
✓ Do you feel that anything you say or do will be twisted against you? (Yes)
✓ Do you find yourself concealing thoughts and feelings to avoid horrible arguments? (Yes)
✓ Are you the focus of intense, violent and irrational rages, alternating with periods when they act normal and loving? (Indeed)
✓ Do you feel manipulated, controlled, or lied to? (Always)
✓ Are you accused of things you never did or said? (Yup)
✓ Do you feel as if someone alternately views you as all good or all bad? (Uh Huh)
✓ Does no one believe you when you explain what is going on? (I wouldn’t even try)
✓ If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, someone you care about may have BPD. (What if I answered yes to all the questions?)
The authors described several case studies far more outrageous than anything I’ve ever encountered with Lou. Many people with this disorder go off the deep end when their significant other just looks at them the wrong way or doesn’t fully meet their needs and they start to feel abandoned. They not only lose control and rage when they don’t get their way, these are people who do physical damage, not only to things, but to other people and to themselves. I’ve seen Lou damage lots of things, but he has never raised a hand to me or Anjelica and isn’t the type to go about cutting himself or threatening suicide. The book describes people whose behaviors are clearly irrational and have childish tantrums with force in adult situations. The suggestions on how to set limits and calm the individual do not sound like they would work for me. If I took a condescending tone with Lou as suggested to calm down a BP in a rage, he probably would hurt me.
But so much described in the book does ring true; I can’t ignore the possibility that if Lou ever actually felt abandoned by me, he could become very violent.
Although I’ve always been intimidated by his aggression and temper, I have never been afraid that he would physically hurt me. But, since this whole job change and move began, I can see that he’s believes that I chose to put his needs, wants, and desires behind my own. And the result has been that his behavior has been progressively more like what is described in the book. What would happen if I decided I want a divorce? Would that abandonment make him dangerous?
My intention is to continue to try to work on our marriage. The house is finally built, and it is beautiful. We’re still getting settled in, and although I still haven’t unpacked my personal stuff, we are getting pictures up on the walls and the knick-knacks out on display. God only knows why I still have any hope at all.