Blame Shame and Lashing Out

Both the Narcissist and the Borderline Personality desire control over those close to them. However, the reasons differ.
     The Narcissist desires control over you because they really believe they are more capable of Life than you are, AND they feel perfectly entitled to your time, your attention, your resources, your services, and your stuff. They deserve it more than you do (your own stuff). If you are not above the Narcissist, you are below him. Anyone above him, in his view, is entitled to their own stuff, because they are special enough to deserve it, and brilliant enough to be capable of handling it. Anyone below the Narcissist in his view, however, is too common, too dumb, too mediocre, too incapable, and just not good enough to deserve to be in control of their own lives, their own stuff, or their own destiny. In fact, anyone who is not above the Narcissist is simply either in the way of the Narcissist's ambitions, or can be used to achieve them. Services that are expected can include praise, admiration, submission, volunteering use of stuff, volunteering any kind of skills, as long as they don't outshine the Narcissist (you can be good at something other than what he's doing), and also financial support.
     The Borderline Personality desires control over you because they want your full attention, and they fear abandonment. They also fear that you will be more attractive than them to other people, or that you will find someone more fun or more interesting to hang out with, and leave them behind. Ironically, that's what THEY do; they will ditch you in a New York minute when they are hanging out with someone they find more interesting, or who gives them more of something than you do. More attention, more ego stroking, more adrenaline rushes, more cash, more prestige. Their fear, and attention seeking, drives their anger and their manipulation. They are extremely defensive, and that defensiveness often turns into venom, which they spit at you in various ways. All to keep you within reach, and to keep you from wrecking any manipulations they have going on with anyone else, or even with themselves that they aren't aware of. The Borderline likes to keep people separated, you probably don't have a lot of mutual friends, and if you do, you don't hang out with them much, not together anyway. The Borderline wants to deal with people in a controlled environment.
     Both the Narcissist and the Borderline may "punish" you for stepping outside of their control. You may not get the punishment right away, you might get a nasty surprise when you least expect it. Maybe your favorite shirt will disappear; maybe your car will be left unlocked in a bad neighborhood. You might get hit in the back of the head with a shockingly nasty verbal assault while you're happily getting ready for bed, that leaves you feeling like you've been run over by a truck, or dragged behind one. Maybe something else suddenly came up when you are getting ready to go to your brother's wedding. (Well, with the Narcissist, something else probably did come up, like an invitation to go play pool.)
     IF you at some point decide you would like to discuss the subject of this relationship where you feel assaulted, controlled, or just sad or unhappy, you will probably not get the healthy response of "Oh I didn't know you felt that way, I'm sorry you are feeling that way, let's talk about it. Let's figure this out." What you will probably get is either a blow-off "I can't talk about this right now" or "We can talk about this later" or "I'm not going to argue with you", or a cold shoulder, complete with crossed arms and turned back, OR you may receive a new, fresh stream of verbal abuses, denying and justifying and defending their own actions, and blaming you for everything under the sun. They are righteous saintly creatures, you are the Enemy. You may even be told you only brought this subject up to make their lives hell... If you keep trying to talk about it, the abuse may escalate, or the loathing may take a turn toward themselves. Basically, the only thing that WILL NOT be talked about is the actual subject you brought up, and there will be no respectful conversation. You can forget about that. 
      Your needs are not to be viewed as having equal or greater importance than theirs. If you call them, they may not answer; they're too busy, you shouldn't bother them like that. But if they call you and you don't answer, where the hell were you, what the hell were you doing?  Because the Narcissist cannot tolerate your petty distractions, and the Borderline is worried that you were doing something to betray them in some way. If you have an emergency, that's your problem. If your family has an emergency, that's THEIR problem. If your child is sick, she's just "trying to get attention" and if you tend to her, you are spoiling her, and just trying to get out of your duty to the Narcissist, or turning your back on the Borderline.
     The Narcissist just doesn't have time for your silly problems, and the Borderline's problems must always be much bigger, much worse, than yours.With either of them, your giving time, attention, and emotion to your personal issues is offensive to them. And make sure you don't use up the resources that they might need later (your own resources, that is).
     Mistakes! Don't make any. What's that, you're human, you say? Not here. The Narcissist's view of any mistake you make is more evidence that you are of inferior quality. Anything, from typos (even if you type 95 words per minute) to a wrinkle on your shirt, to a missed appointment; all evidence that you are less in their eyes. For them, however, any mistake is just a mistake; and if the hammer misses the nail, it's the hammer's fault. The Borderline also tallies your mistakes, and stores them for future use in defensive arguments, even the ones where they said "oh that's no big deal" at the time. Any time you call them out on something they did wrong, however big or small, and however NOT upset you are about it, they will fire back at you with both barrels. Whether you asked them if they left the ice cream out, or ran over the dog, they will break out the big guns to blast you with your own mistakes, missteps, and often things that you didn't even do. Also, if you bring up something they had done in the past as an example of something you are trying to explain, as a reference point in order to give a clearer picture, they may easily miss your point, misunderstand the discussion altogether, and take it as you "throwing it in their face".

     Basically, the Narcissist is controlling more for reasons of offensive domination, and the Borderline is controlling more for defensive reasons. Both will probably hurt you, and both will probably try to justify their actions and try to turn the blame on you for anything and everything. Both do a lot of projection and rationalization , terms definitely worth understanding (even if you're just a regular human bean).
     Neither may have any interest in addressing their own issues, or taking responsibility for their own suffering, pain, or behavior. Neither can stand to see their own flaws; the Narcissist can't stand anything that would spoil the image they have created of themselves, and the Borderline has a very hard time with keeping those flaws based in reality; their foibles become horrible failures, their low self esteem becomes self-loathing, their fear becomes terror. The Narcissist is like a Roman God, above all mortals and ruler of peasants, and the Borderline is like a burn victim; if you even look at them wrong you cause them pain, and they thoroughly dismiss the possibility that anyone else could be in as much pain as them, least of all those who should be tending to their wounds. And if you cause them pain for any reason, they feel completely justified in lashing out with as much rage and meanness as comes out of their mouth. A lot like a real burn victim might do, spewing obscenities and screaming at doctors and nurses who are there to save them and heal them, and innocent family and friends who come to visit. As long as they remain wounded, they feel deserving of and entitled to compassion and attention, and carte blanche to forgiveness for any behavior and treatment of others. So the Borderline also may not want to heal, for fear of losing the special status that someone who is wounded is entitled to. The world for both of them is consumed by their own needs, real or perceived.
     And yes, a person can harbor traits of both. Healing and recovery is out there, but as the Navi say, "it is hard to fill a cup that is already full." Neither the Narcissist nor the Borderline can stand being seen as anything less than righteous, and both often fear that they will have a finger pointed at them if they seek help. To the Narcissist, no silly psychiatric person could possibly understand them, except for maybe Carl Jung himself, maybe... and to the Borderline who is hyper defensive, going to the psychologist carries the fear of being blamed. And since it is apparent that most, if not all, Borderlines grew up in abusive households, or were abused by another caregiver or authority, their fear is not exactly "crazy", they have been blamed, shamed and punished for things they didn't do too many times. So, they may not be able to wrap their minds around being responsible for their own actions AND NOT getting judged or punished for those actions. Simply analyzing behavioral and emotional patterns in a clinical, objective way may not seem like a real possibility for them.
     The Narcissist doesn't give two hens in a coop about what you or a therapist thinks, and the Borderline is already worried about what both you and the therapist are thinking. And already raising hackles in defense, before the first appointment, which may never happen. You may even receive a backlash of passive or outright aggression from the Borderline in response to what they are imagining will happen at the therapist's office. It hasn't actually happened, of course, but they may be churning with real anger at you for what they think you are thinking, or what they imagine will happen.
     Unless, of course, the appointment is about "what's wrong" with YOU. And if you're in a relationship of any kind with a Narcissist or a Borderline person, there probably is a good reason for you to keep your therapy appointments, either to deal with the stress of your interactions with them, and/or to find out about co-depency or Borderline symptoms of your own, so you can heal.


In Your Head

It seems as though every time you find something you enjoy doing, somehow someone needs your attention. Every time you find a joke hilarious, someone is there to criticize it and deflate the funny. When you commit yourself to a goal, somehow when you apply yourself fully, you have to stop what you're doing to attend to someone's needs. The shirt you find in the store is a little too long, short, ugly, or flashy; the music you love is not very good, the car you want to buy is not quite practical enough, the friend you get along with well is somehow not quite welcome with someone else in your circle. Whatever you're doing, if it has drawn your full attention, or if it seems to give you real joy, fulfillment, or satisfaction, it is always somehow stopped, stifled, criticized, diverted, or forgotten.

Is it you who is sabotaging all of your happy, all of your forward motion, all of your accomplishment?

Do you really believe that?

Take a closer look at those around you. Watch their behavior, listen to their words. Observe them a bit more clinically than you're used to doing. You might be quite surprised at who is really doing the sabotaging. Watch WHAT they do, what they SAY, and watch their TIMING. Watch them as if you are a scientist observing a group of people you've never met, from a foreign land.

If and when you figure it out, don't be too hard on them, it won't solve your problem. All you can really do is take steps to inoculate yourself against their button pushing and subtle manipulation. Learn to strengthen your boundaries so you don't feel guilt or shame for not catering to their every whim, and learn the difference between healthy relationships and narcissism. If you completely put all of your whims above their real needs, and you forget that they are human beings too, then you are not doing what's best for everyone either. It may take some time to learn the balance, but once you get a handle on it, you'll be able to sail your own ship once again, maybe for the first time. And still be there for the ones you love.

Good voyage.


Everyone talks about what is healthy behavior and what isn't, but no one seems to agree on just what that means. Here's a brief guideline I found that is pretty simple and straightforward. As far I'm concerned, healthy behavior comes down to making sure we don't cause problems for other people when we're trying to go about living and getting our needs met. Everything else is personality, and individual beliefs. I personally really believe in helping whoever needs help, within my reasonable capacity.Which does include self sacrifice if the need of the other person warrants it. But the help that I give is of my own volition. If someone is demanding my help, I am not so inclined to drop what I'm doing unless it is literally an actual health issue that requires my actual help. Hypochondria doesn't warrant my self-sacrifice, bleeding from the eyes and ears does.
If I have done my best, to my capacity, and they are demanding help as if I didn't even try, that's a red flag to call someone else and get reinforcements. People who demand help with a tone of resentment are often the same ones who would turn their backs if you needed them, and may also see a person who helps them as a threat, or as "high and mighty". The tone of resentment belies their knowledge of their own nature. I help them anyway, because that's what I think is right, regardless of their level of self-centeredness, but I keep a closer eye on my boundaries and my pockets. Safety first.


Randi Kreger on BPD

Click that link above to read another one of Randi Kreger's objective, well written blog posts on Borderline Personality Disorder. I love how her point of view is about information GATHERING, not pontificating and claiming to know the end-all of the subject.

Here's an excerpt:

"Now let's take a closer look at same thoughts, feelings, and actions that are typical of people with BPD in general (not all will apply to your particular situation). These are all, of course, also common in people who don't have BPD.

Borderline Beliefs

A person with BPD might: <----(See how she says "might")
* Alternate between seeing others as completely for them or against them.
* Have a hard time recalling someone's love for them when they're not around.
* Change their opinions depending upon who they're with.
* Alternate between idealizing people and devaluing them.
* Remember situations very differently than other people, or find themselves unable to recall them at all.
* Believe that others are responsible for their actions-or take too much responsibility for the actions of others.
* Seem unwilling to admit to a mistake-or feel that everything that they do is a mistake.
* Base their beliefs on feelings rather than facts.
* Not realize the effects of their behavior on others. <----(my personal favorite...)

Borderline Behaviors

A person with BPD might:
* Have trouble observing their own and others' personal limits.
* Rush into relationships based on idealized fantasies of what they would like the other person or the relationship to be.
* Change their expectations in such a way that the other person feels they can never do anything right.
* Have frightening, unpredictable rages that make no logical sense-or have trouble expressing anger at all.
* Physically abuse others, such as slapping, kicking, and scratching them.
* Needlessly create crises or live a chaotic lifestyle.
* Act inconsistently or unpredictably.
* Alternately want to be close to others, then distance themselves.
* Cut people out of their life over issues that seem trivial or overblown.
* Act competent and controlled in some situations but extremely out of control in others.
* Verbally abuse others, criticizing and blaming them to a point where it undermines the other person's confidence in themselves.
* Act in what seems like extreme or controlling ways to get their own needs met.
* Accuse others of doing things they did not do, having feelings they do not feel, or believing things they do not believe.