To My Late Husband, Who Understood My Borderline Personality Disorder Like No One Else Could
It’s been almost 12 years since you left me and this world. In that time, I have had more than my fill of time to think about our life together and process where everything went wrong and what was right about it. After you first died, the house rang with emptiness and I was consumed with loneliness and fear. You know I had never been on my own — I was always with you. I didn’t really know how to be alone and I was very afraid of the idea of being on my own. True to my BPD diagnosis, the fear of abandonment was excruciating for me. For the first six months I struggled to sleep at night because I was so afraid of the quietness of the house.
My fear became almost palpable. I soon stopped being able to go out of the house except to go to the grocery store or the bank. My world shrank to just the walls inside which I lived. My only companion became the television set in front of which I spent all my time from the moment I woke up in the morning to the moment I crawled back into bed. I became isolated and my social connections dried up entirely. This happened I think because my borderline personality disorder (BPD) tended to make me cut off people. You were my link to friends and friendships, my connection to the world of other people.
During those first three terrible years as I struggled to make sense of things, I didn’t really have time to miss you except in terms of the practical ways described above. I did, however, spend a lot of time thinking about our marriage and all the ways it both fulfilled me and stifled me. I have come to appreciate you in ways I never would have had you not died and left me behind.
You understood my BPD in ways that no one else ever could. You understood my need for acceptance and gave as much “unconditional love” as possible. You understood the raging, destructive anger and where it came from even though you didn’t condone it. You understood the vulnerability that hid behind the fear of the world at large and you had the soothing balm to calm it — something no one else ever had.
So, now what do I want to say to you?
I want to tell you how sorry I am that I was not able to appreciate and accept the love you had for me when you gave it. I want to tell you how sorry I am for all the ways I rejected you and belittled you when I was raging. I want to apologize for the ways I screamed and yelled at you all night sometimes, the way I would call you in a panic in the middle of the day and beg you to come home to take care of me. I want to apologize for the way my BPD did not allow me to be soft and gentle with your love and instead always flung it back in your face like a dagger when you reached out to caress me.
Even though I know you know, I want to tell you I chose you for a very specific reason, because I knew you would never leave me. And you never did until I made things so terrible that you had no choice and you packed your bags and left the house. You didn’t storm out of the house in anger, though. Rather you left in a sort of quiet resignation that something you had always known would come to pass had finally occurred. I want you to know I understand why you did that and I forgive you for it because I realize now I was the one at fault. I want to tell you I forgive you for all the ways I thought you failed me because now I see I held you to an impossibly high standard and I know it was so unfair of me to do so.
And mostly I want to tell you I miss you. Even though I could never tell you when you were living, I loved you more than words could express. My BPD made it impossible for me to accept your love and return it in any kind of meaningful way. I’m sorry for all of that. But I know that you alone realized and understood how sick I was.
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Getty Images photo via Koji_Ishii