My sister has been really supportive throughout my marriage troubles and now the split has happened she has begun to send me through helpful books she’s found on Amazon. I’m currently dipping in and out of A Woman’s Guide to Divorce by Phyllida Wilson & Maxine Pillinger and Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.
The former is UK-centric and I have found some of what I’ve read so far to be both useful and somewhat scary. The advice on communications in particular helps to put in perspective everything that is said and done and how you react to it so that you retain your own self respect if nothing else.
The latter is maybe less useful but more interesting to me. I love popular psychology anyway and I could spend all day browsing that section of a bookstore, but combine that with a potential glimpse into your own past through completely new eyes and that’s me hooked.
I have long held that my ex suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder – I’ve even expressed that thought to him. Essentially someone with BPD is absolutely terrified of abandonment by their nearest and dearest and yet they almost pathologically push those same people away through their controlling, over-bearing, accusatory behaviour and raging outbursts which can be triggered off by the most innocuous thing leaving the recipient feeling like they are ‘walking on eggshells’.
It is widely believed that BPD sufferers are predominantly female however there is a school of thought that says the reason for there to be this skewing of the figures is because the same behaviour in men is more likely mistaken for either Bipolar or anger management issues what with all that testosterone surging around.
Bancroft’s book doesn’t really touch upon BPD but what it does do is classify different types of abuser.
The reason I concluded that my ex suffers with BPD is because I Googled ’emotional abuse’ and found that what I’d experienced didn’t fit with all the standard definitions. However something about personality disorders came up and I found myself reading terms that I’d already thought in my own head: ‘walking on eggshells’ ‘perceived slights’ ‘no-win scenarios’…
What I have discovered from reading Why Does He Do That? has been even more of an eye opener though. It turns out my ex almost exactly fits the author’s definition of ‘The Victim’ as one of his ten types of abuser. After reading that section I immediately handed the book to my mum who was equally gobsmacked by just how spookily similar the description was – it could almost have been written just about him.
I guess reading these descriptions, combined with speaking to a counsellor, has given me a good deal of belief in myself and my reasons for leaving. As a victim you can so easily question yourself and memories of the distress you have experienced on so many occasions can begin to fade away to the point where you begin to believe that you must have imagined it or you rationalise it away.
I would recommend any woman who has ever wondered whether her partner’s more negative behaviours – the ones that have really affected her – do some research into personality disorders and abusive ‘types’. Knowledge is power and behaviour can be predicted.
*Picture credit: Masked Man by Naruto-gomes