Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rights of the Non-Personality Disorder Afflicted

This may not be a very popular piece but I have to write it for the victims that are struggling with the aftermath of life with someone who has one of the many personality disorders that results in emotional, physical and verbal abuse for the non-afflicted.  People think emotional or verbal abuse is no big deal, "at least you weren't beaten or molested."  Well, meaning but invalidating comments.   There is such a thing as emotional rape and that leaves hidden scars that fester and wreak havoc for many years.  I've read some things around the internet specifically concerning NPD and BPD and how the family members cannot use tough love, cannot leave the abusive person because it will do harm.  I'm sorry, as much as I truly feel for the NPD and BPD folks suffering out there, no person has the right to abuse another and no person has to continually subject themselves to abuse for any reason.  Sometimes, the only way for the non-afflicted to heal and come to terms with a personality disorder afflicted family member is to create a space of no contact.  There are times and cases where that is absolutely a necessity to preserve emotional sanity for the non-afflicted.

This topic is very near and dear to me for many reasons and without going into too many details to protect the privacy of the individuals involved, I'm writing from first hand-experience.  After suffering a life-time of verbal and emotional abuse, nothing made me feel more violated than to listen to people telling me I had no right to protect myself, that for me to take action passively to protect myself was wrong, and that I just had to understand that the individuals in my life had an affliction and I needed to just deal with it.  Well, those individuals have obviously never suffered emotional abuse, physical abuse and verbal abuse to the point of near emotional destruction.  I'm sorry but they are wrong.  There are some individuals who can learn about the disorders and stay in the presence of the ill-family members and there are those who can't.  No one has the right to abuse another for any reason period and any kind of abuse from any source should not be tolerated.

Here is the one caution and consideration I have though, to the NPD and BPD individual, fighting back with them for their attacks is not okay.  Adding insult to injury does not promote healing and as much as "getting even" might temporarily make you feel vindicated, it is a short-lived high and will still leave you devastated.  For those folks I say, learn about the illness that you face, get professional help for yourself and learn effective ways to deal with the individual who carries these NPD and BPD traits or diagnoses.  These individuals seem like evil incarnate but they are not.  They are still beautiful souls somewhere inside who are carrying an invisible wound that runs so deep that they would cause harm to every person that loves them.  I do not believe they purposely set out to hurt you and not that this should excuse their behavior (because treatment, if they cooperate, can really be effective and change their lives for the better) its their wounds that have taken on a life of their own that are causing you harm.  I know about the uncanny ability they have to seek out all of the things that you hold dear and how they meticulously rip that to shreds and leave you lying on the floor and yet they kick and spit on you further with more vile and vindictive words and then, they'll just go and tell everybody that the horrid things they just did and said to you is what you do to them every day.  They'll turn family members and friends against you to protect their wounds at all costs and even call the authorities with made up stories of beatings, thefts and other things just to show you how much power they have over you.  This is tricky, so tricky to deal with.  That is why counseling and support for you is a must.  You cannot go it alone without suffering some type of emotional harm.

So, this situation is a no-win for families all over the world. The NPDs and BPDs have an endless pit of emptiness, an amazing ability to psychologically transfer everything onto you, and short-sighted developmental challenge as seeing every one as wholly evil or wholly good with no in-between (Read the book No More Walking on Eggshells for more information on the disorder).  Can you imagine having to live like that?  Its brutal, I've watched it.  But, the bottom line is that we all have choices.  When a healthy individual suddenly feels overly anxious or suffers depression, a healthy person will seek out the help of a counselor, clergy person or friend to help them work it out.  It's a choice that is made.  At some-level, there must be an admission or choice by the NPD or BPD too if they want to stop everyone from running away from them but their own illness prevents them in many cases.  It is their journey to walk and for those of you who are unable to cope with it, you may have to choose no contact, mourn your expectations about that person in your life and move on focusing only on you.  No one should suffer abuse and without help, you could carry some of their traits by holding onto anger, frustration and pain.  That's not good.  If you can't afford counseling, there are support groups online in abundance and these are free.  Just type in non-NPD or non-BPD support and you will find information, support groups and even counselors or coaches who specialize in treatment.  Even has videos for the ill and non-ill family members to help them understand and cope.

The purpose of this article is not to insult or disparage the NPD or BPD in any way.  It is to put the focus on those suffering the abusive side of these personality disorders and to let them know abuse is NOT okay, suffering abuse is pointless and to help the non-afflicted to find a way to get support for what they have suffered.  The NPD and BPD people suffer, no doubt about it.  However, every person has choices to make in their lives.  They can choose recovery and treatment or they can choose to remain trapped inside of a mind that distorts reality and causes them so much pain.  The loved ones of the NPD and BPD folks have choices too.  They can choose recovery and treatment or they can choose to remain trapped inside of the victim box that also distorts their life experience and causes them so much pain.  We all have choices to make and our tolerance levels vary.  For the non-afflicted, you need to either learn to disregard the insults and learn how to speak to the afflicted individuals in a way that is non-threatening...learn how to see the insults and criticism has nothing to do with you but are about the personality disorder of a loved one.  The non-afflicted may need to choose limited contact or no contact at all.  Whatever you choose, feel not one ounce of guilt for doing what you need to do to recover in a healthy way (by getting help and cutting yourself off from the abuse in a non-threatening way (as much as that is possible) to the NPD or BPD).  Taking care of yourself and being loving with yourself are the most important things that you can do.

For those who grew up with an NPD or BPD, Adult Children of Alcoholics has a program that is also quite wonderfully effective in helping you recover.  I cannot recommend that program enough.  If you don't have the money for a counselor to get treatment at the moment, this program is a good one.  You can participate in local groups in your town, online or go through the work books on your own (Just look up ACA or ACOA online and you'll find their book store).  There are also some organizations that might offer low or no cost counseling for those who qualify.  Check with your local state services offices and ask them what they can offer.  You never know until you try.  Your intent to heal and grow beyond what you've dealt with having an NPD or BPD or other aflicted loved one is the first step.  Finding that treatment program to get you there is the next step.  Do what you need to do to heal and grow from the experience.

My heart goes out to the afflicted and non-afflicted alike.  I've seen the devastation of personality disorders on the hosts and those who love them.  Its devastatingly painful to witness.  But more so without help and guidance of those trained to treat.  I wish you all much healing, much love and happy, healthy and productive lives here on Earth! ~Blessings

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