Toxic BPD friendship advice

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samson76

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Toxic BPD friendship advice
« on: October 08, 2019, 01:23:35 PM »
Looking for some advice/a space to vent more than anything.

Last year my friend got diagnosed with BPD. It didnít really come as a surprise. At first she was drastically improving with treatment and doing well. However earlier this year her treatment stopped, and she went into crisis mode, eventually being admitted into psychiatric care after threats of suicide.

Since then, it has been challenging to be in her life. While she was in care she was constantly messaging me while Iím at work about how sheís going to hurt herself etc etc, mostly because of a break up she isnít over (happened 1+ years ago).

It took itís toll on me, but since then a mutual friend shared screenshots of messages my friend sent to her ex partner shorty before she was admitted into care. It was along the lines of Ďif you donít talk to me Iím going to try and kill myselfí. Long story short, it basically seems like the whole hospital stay was an attention seeking endeavour because the ex cut the final threads of contact. Needless to say I was upset due to the stress this has put on me and other friends.

Since then, friend has been insufferable. Out of hospital now, but showing zero signs of improvement. A few friends got together to try and communicate to her that she should move on with her life, forget about the ex (she constantly says things like she wants Ďrevengeí on the ex for them leaving her).  During this meeting she brought up a painful memory for me (something personal) which upset me. She showed zero remorse for upsetting me, and when our friends tried to get her to see I was upset by her comments, sarcastically said Ďoh yeah itís all about Samson76í, never mind the fact Im upset and suicidal.

After that I told her I wasnít interested in hanging out with her anymore, that I needed some space and would be ready to talk again when she started to get treatment. She took this AWFULLY and sent me barrages of messages abusing me and calling me an awful person, told me that she would kill herself if her friends werenít there. Since then sheís dropped in and out of my life and it always ends the same.

I tried to reach out after a month NC and invite her to my birthday party. On the day of the party (5 mins before it was due to start) she text me asking me where the party was, then when I told her (she already knew this information) she told me that Iíd picked a venue too far for her and she wouldnít make it, and she would take me out for dinner next week instead.

I told her I wasnít free for dinner and she blew up at me and told me again that I was a bad friend, she was trying to do something nice and take me out for my birthday and how dare I treat her like this. I told her sheíd upset me by bailing on my party on the day, that I was with my friends right now and I didnít want her to message me. I told her Sheíd upset me by ignoring my boundaries when I said I didnít want her to message me, and she verbally attacked me via text, she blew up my phone for 2-3 hours.

NC for three months. I broke NC to reach out and see how she was, and we made plans to meet 3 weeks from the day. She also said sheíd call me that weekend. She didnít call, and I didnít hear anything from her. The day came, and I reached out and just said, hey, guess you were busy today but Iím next free in a monthís time (Iím going on holiday for 2 weeks). She sent me an essay saying how I should have got in touch, sheíd been looking forward to seeing me and disappointed I didnít see her today. I said I was free next month. She asked to see me sooner. I again stated my boundary. She asked to call me. I said I was busy, but could call at the weekend. She asked to call me tomorrow, and I had to repeat 3 times I was busy but could call her on the weekend. Again, she blew up my phone and called me a bad friend, that Iím pushing her away when sheís trying to reconnect, that I was flaunting my busy schedule and my relationship in her face (I told her I couldnít speak on the phone because I was on a date night with my SO), that she canít trust me, that Iím a liar, that sheís going to kill herself. Every time I tell her sheís upset me, she calls me selfish and that Iím making the situation all about myself and my feelings.

Iím so tired. Iím afraid to go full NC but every time I try and establish boundaries they get pushed, and if I try and stay firm with them I get bombarded with abusive messages until I crack and get angry back. It feels so toxic but itís impossible to communicate that this behaviour is upsetting me without her getting defensive and attacking me. Has anyone dealt with anything. The friendship never used to be this bad, but Iíve never been so firm with my boundaries before.

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Bloomie

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2019, 06:58:16 PM »
samson76 - Hi and welcome to the boards. Wow, what a great deal of angst producing histrionics you have been living through with this friend. I think you are most wise in noting that the relationship became more strained when you began to set boundaries.

There is great help for you here on the boards and in the toolbox and traits information above. Read through it and through the glossary and posts here if you have not done so already for validation and strategies for handling toxic behaviors and interactions.

Something that I have learned with unstable BPD family members that is not original to me, but taken from Gavin DeBecker's book: The Gift of Fear... when people are treating us with such disrespect when we set a boundary and say enough leave me alone and then we engage again it engages the person because they have manipulated us into contact, but are not getting what they want from us. So, each time you repeat your boundary you may be weakening your position AND enraging this person.

So, starting with some further boundary work and learning how to work with your emotions when this person comes at you so aggressively with harsh and untrue accusations may really help clarify if this is a relationship that you can continue and be safe in.

It is understandable that your are sad that your friend is struggling and so discombobulated in her life right now. That is very sad.

Learning where we end and others begin, what is ours to do in any given situation is so healthy and wise with folks like you're describing here. It is okay to take a good long time out and take good care of yourself in all of this. It is okay if others who are involved with this person make different choices than you do in relationship with her as well.

A great motto I learned here... The 3 C's - I didn't cause it, I can't cure it, and I can't control it. :yes:

Keep coming back and sharing! It really does help lighten a heavy heart!
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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countrygirl

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2019, 12:41:03 PM »
Hi samson76,

You post really resonated for me.  I experienced the same abusive onslaught when I tired to create boundaries with a PD friend. 

You have been a good friend, and have done all that is humanly possible.  Bloomie has given you expert advice, which was also helpful for me to read.  I am going to purchase The Gift of Fear.

I once took an American Red Cross Lifesaving course, and will never forget a motto I learned:  "It is better that one drown than two."  Meaning that a lifeguard should not attempt a rescue so dangerous that they too are likely to drown.  Sometimes, with PD friends, when their problems are so severe, we have to distance ourselves or we will be pulled under too.  This will not help them. 

Being subjected to such abusive behavior by someone for whom you care deeply hurts so much.  If only one's PD friend realized that setting up boundaries also hurts the feelings of their friends who must do so for their own protection.  I know you wish your friend could be a normal person who could enjoy her life and your friendship.  You feel this for her sake and for your own. 

I wanted to tell you that I'be been there and I empathize with you.  I really struggled with my friendship and found that posting here and reading people's replies really helped me.  They understood what I was going through, didn't judge me and offered good advice.  I also found that writing about the situation helped clarify my thoughts. 

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Whitesheep45

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2019, 12:28:13 PM »

Im going through a similar situation and have decided I am getting out of the relationship for good.
From what I know of bpd there is no respecting of boundaries because the person doesn't hear and feel them. There is no separation between the person and another. Therfore rights don't exist. Empathy is not owned just like an autistic person it isn't part of the person and so cannot be expected.
Clear, firm, direct communication is needed and staying fast with that.
Yes there will be come back and I too am expecting this in my situation. The person I am dealing with can get suicidal thinking.
For me I have decided I am getting the support I need, I shall also the situation to  my psychologist tomorrow.
I have a responsibility to own my integrity and start to find good enough relating.
I have a right to speak honestly and keep firm in my decisons.
I have a right to end a relationship.
I can take appropriate steps to look after. Myself and create a safe environment.
I am Not responsible for how another behaviours.



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countrygirl

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2019, 12:25:54 PM »
Hi Whitesheep45,

I think you have a really clear idea about PDs and about what you should do in your situation.   I wish I'd known all of this when I was setting boundaries with my PD friend. 

samson76's post resonated so much for me.  He just wanted to check in and see how his PD friend was doing, and he was subjected to more abuse.  It is so sad to realize that PDs just aren't going to behave normally, not unless they become self-aware enough to get lots and lots of therapy.  A therapist once told me that my friend would need very intense therapy, in which she was taught the appropriate responses to people.  You mentioned autistic people, and if I'm correct, I think they sometimes do this sort of work. 

But, instead of the PDs seeking therapy, those of us who have or who have had relationships with them often end up discussing how to deal with them in therapy.  And it is truly worth doing the work, and hopefully learning how to recognize and avoid them in the future. 

Best of luck to you!   


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Wilderhearts

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2019, 01:15:01 AM »
Long story short, it basically seems like the whole hospital stay was an attention seeking endeavour because the ex cut the final threads of contact. Needless to say I was upset due to the stress this has put on me and other friends.

This is a really tough things to handle, and to respond to.  pwBPD (people with BPD) do tend to resort to self-injury (often non-suicidal) to change their emotional states.  Unfortunately for us as well, they often also use threats of harming/killing themselves to assure themselves they won't be abandoned, i.e. to manipulate others into staying with them.  You seem to have a handle on what BPD is, so maybe you're familiar with the diagnostic criteria about extreme fear of abandonment and and "frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment"?   It feels awful to be manipulated this way because we have such a strong internal drive to protect the ones we care about, and it's being exploited to control our behaviour. 

As far as "attention seeking," goes, I would say it's a bit more than that.  pwBPD can unravel when they feel they're being abandoned.  Because they lack the ability to regulate their own emotions, and can't be confident they can prevent themselves from harming themselves (poor impulse control is common with BPD), they can become reliant on other people to do this for them.  Their environment (and the people that make it up) determines their internal state - much like toddlers, whose parents comfort/soothe/motivate them, pwBPD can depend on other people a lot for this.  I think that's why abandonment is terrifying - they're losing their buffer between themselves and all their internal pain and chaos - and there's a lot of it.

However.  That does not make you responsible for regulating anyone else's emotions (unless you have a toddler ;) ).  And it does not make manipulating you with threats of self-injury acceptable.  And it does not make you responsible for ensuring someone remains safe from herself (beyond calling 911 if she says she's going to do it).  This is part of the 3Cs "I can't cure it, and I can't control it." 

Personally, when I'm fielding unfair accusations from pwPDs, I find it helpful to remember that the things they're saying about me are actually about themselves.  This may be because they're projecting, like you're friend was when she claimed that you were the "bad" and "selfish" friend (as she hurled abuse at you).  It may also be just about the way they feel - they feel unsafe (therefore you're threatening them, even when you're not), they feel unloved (therefore you're unloving and awful).  Feelings often inform facts with pwPDs - their perception of reality is distorted by intense and irrational emotions.  This is the ultimate "take it with a grain of salt" and remember that every awful thing a pwPD says about you isn't actually about you, no matter how hard they try to make it personal.

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countrygirl

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2019, 12:17:55 PM »
That was so well put, Wilderhearts! 

If only I had known about this board during the many years I tried to deal with my longterm Bipolar 1 (who refuses medication) and BPD friend.  Just thinking about how hard I worked exhausts me.  Now I realize that all of my efforts didn't help her either, because they sort of normalized what wasn't normal.

Toward the end of our friendship, she tried to guilt trip me by talking about suicide, telling me she was suicidal because I had withdrawn from the friendship, and saying that she couldn't discuss it with anyone because they would see it as more evidence that she was mentally ill. (Which she was.  Several involuntary hospitalizations at different places.)  By that time, I had read a lot on the board and had listened to people's suggestions, so didn't allow myself to be drawn back in. 

At any rate, your reply to samson76 also helped me.  I can really empathize with him.  You so want to do the right thing for your friend, but you don't help them by allowing them to manipulate you.     

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samson76

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2019, 08:03:32 AM »
Hi All,

thanks for your replies. It feels good to know that I am not alone. unfortunatly my last post had not been the end of my experience. Over the past few weeks I had tried to move on from the stress and upset our last conversation had caused. Then out of the blue I got a message asking how I was, with zero acknowledgment around our fight. I chose to ignore this, I wasn't ready to resume contact and I wasn't in a place to have another argument. Since then I've had more than one flying monkey message me asking me why I'm not replying. One of these messages was so hurtful and long, that it's really set me back. I've basically had a stranger say things like I'm pushing someone to suicide. My approach has been to block, and I've told a mutual friend that I'm just not ready to resume contact right now. My main concern and worry is retaliation for this. Has anyone experience something similar when they've gone no-contact? In my eyes now the friendship is irreparable, after the hurtful messages I received from a virtual stranger.

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NumbLotus

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2019, 10:52:09 AM »
One thing that I am seeing, and I really do understand it from your perspective but there is another perspective here.

You talk about "going NC" for a month, then out if the blue contacting her. Or NC a few months, then boom, party invitation.

She blew up and then eventually messaged you out of the blue. You're not replying because you are not ready right now.

Again, I do understand you are trying to protect yourself and set boundaries. But even if she were nit mentally ill, these contacts out of the blue, then shutting her out, then responding when *you* feel like it would feel unsettling.

I support your idea of going NC, but NC is not "freeze her out for a month and then message her to check in." NC is NC, period.

I think you should be consistent. If you are going to keep her in your life, don't play games. If she messages you to ask how you are, answer her. You might ignore abusive messages, but ignoring "how have you been?" won't make any sense to her and will certainly trigger a BPD.

Or, go NC. Which means staying NC. No invites to birthday parties. No saying hi and checking in. You're done, and stay that way.
Just a castaway, an island lost at sea
Another lonely day, noone here but me
More loneliness than any man could bear

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samson76

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2019, 01:15:09 PM »
Thanks for your reply. I do understand what you're saying. it's been hard to go full NC as I have valued our friendship and the relationship we had before it started to become toxic.

I guess the cycle has been that I have been hurt by abuse from my friend and have needed some time to heal from that. When I have tried to resume contact it has been with boundaries in place, which get immediately pushed the minute we start speaking again, and I find that saying 'no' or being firm in these boundaries has caused another fight where again there needed to be space to heal from. I will admit that my patience is thin by now and it's gotten to the point where I'm frustrated when the smallest boundary is pushed. I've tried to be clear when she's sent hurtful messages after I've been firm with a boundary and say, ''hey, the things you are saying to me are hurtful, I am upset, I need to take some space'. Everytime this happened she needed reassurance it wasn't permanent, which I guess is my reason for checking in once I've felt healed and ready to talk again.

I think I didn't reply because in my gut I didn't feel ready, so told the mutual friend to try and avoid another cycle of fighting and pushing.

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NumbLotus

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2019, 02:53:12 PM »
Yeah, understood.

My best friend had BPD. I loved her very much. She died 21 years ago and she is still in my thoughts. So what you have is a relationship, one you care about (whether you continue or go total NC).
Just a castaway, an island lost at sea
Another lonely day, noone here but me
More loneliness than any man could bear

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samson76

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Re: Toxic BPD friendship advice
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2019, 02:08:38 PM »
So sorry for your loss <3