Hey everybody, this is my first post to this group. I am 65 years old, and over the years I have been diagnosed with BPD, PTSD, major depressive disorder, and type 2 narcolepsy. My dad abused me both physically and verbally for my entire childhood. When I was 15 he killed himself in a place and a way that he knew only I would find him, and after that I was on my own. My life was really chaotic until I was about 40 years old, when I moved to a new city and quit using alcohol and weed. Over the next 12 years, my life steadily improved. I was promoted several times at my job, and had a lot less drama in my life. I took up some old activities that had given me great joy in my youth - archery, and horses; everything to do with horses, owning horses, riding horses, taking care of horses. I felt as if I were finally on a road to recovery, as much as that was possible from many of my issues. When I was 52 years old, I met a woman at a party. She was someone who loved horses, but for years it had been pretty well impossible for her to participate because she was legally blind and had rheumatoid arthritis. We started dating, and it delighted me to be able to give her time with horses. Eventually we married, and we together for about 11 years in total. In the end it turned out that my connection to her was crippling, and I believe nearly killed me. As soon as she, "had me", so to speak her demeanor changed rapidly. She became insanely demanding of my time. She let me have nothing for myself. When we got a place together she threw temper tantrums about my hanging my artwork on the walls. When my dog died she threw a fit over the idea of my picking out the next dog, I caved and let her choose one. Over the years that we were married she undermined and poisoned many of my closest friendships, I was lucky to hang on to any people at all. She one way or another, conned me out of essentially all of my life savings. When I finally had the guts to leave her, I was left with almost nothing at all. One of my horses had died, I lost the other because the only place I could afford to board him was 80 mi away from the only place I could afford to live, and so I gave him up because he needed a person, a person who could be involved. So what had happened was that I had given myself over to the most toxic kind of narcissist you could possibly imagine. Over the years I was abused in many ways, gaslighted, manipulated, lied to, stolen from, and so much more. It was extremely traumatic and at the end of things, in as bad as shape as I had ever been in my life when it came to the symptoms of my mental illness. It literally set me back almost 20 years or more. I found myself wondering how I could possibly have let that go on for so long. I felt really stupid and ashamed. I was constantly depressed, and angry, and completely lost. I made the first serious suicide attempt that I had ever made in my life, and spent some time in the hospital because of that.
The reason why I am posting this right now is because, while I have managed to claw my way back from what happened in many ways, I have been looking at myself and my history, and I don't like what I see. One thing that I can see very clearly is that all of my life I have been a people pleaser, and a chameleon, molding myself to what I felt like other people desired. Sometimes I haven't been very good at respecting other people's boundaries, but the really notable thing is that I had no boundaries of my own. If I cared about you, anything that you ask me to do, I would try and do without any thought of what my needs were. I even had a hard time saying no strangers. My ex had really good instincts, She knew how to pick her victim, and as I said I really feel like a stupid fool because of that, even though I know that I shouldn't, I still do. Another thing that I have seen about myself is how much shame I have. The shame and the people pleasing are part and parcel of the same thing, and I know are pretty common in people with BPD. I have had so much shame over yearly everything in my life. I have felt like a fraud and an impostor both in college and at work. Truly, every time I got promoted I felt like it was part of a masquerade, and that someday someone would see me for who I really was. I have been ashamed of ever wanting anything for myself, I have never liked myself, I have never been able to express my needs openly in a relationship. And now I'm 65 years old, and while I can try, it almost feels way too late to try and change and recover.
I apologize for the length of this post, but in many ways I am in a lot of pain. So if anyone has any words of comfort or wisdom to share, that is something I could really use right now.