07 May 2009

A Male Borderline

The Washington Post's advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, runs a weekly chat. This week's took place today, and I discovered its transcript while reading the paper online this evening.

The Post, quite reasonably, prefers to be linked rather than quoted. Although many of its articles are behind a "registration wall", online chats are accessible, as are links within those chats.

So: here is a link to the chat that ran today.

First, Truth In Labeling. There was no discussion of Borderline PD in the chat. Rather, there was a discussion of suicide - and, I hope, there was a successful intervention as well.

A poster commented that he didn't think his family would miss him if he... wasn't there anymore, or anywhere else, permanently... because he had become emotionally estranged from them. He did not state outright that he was considering suicide, but the implication was clear, as was his depressed state.

Ms Hax, bless her, did her best to direct him to immediate help.

Shortly thereafter, another poster recommended a 1996 Post article written by a woman who lost her father to suicide some 20 years previously.

The brief discussion within the chat centered on suicide and its impact on those left behind, and on concern for the man who posted today. But when I read the linked 1996 article, what jumped out of virtually every paragraph was not the anticipated tragic portrait of a self-doomed father who suffered from depression. What I found, instead, was a detailed description of a man who almost certainly suffered from Borderline PD, and abused his entire family for years before his death.

The article is graphic, starkly honest, and very chilling. Approach it with caution.

This link may give you direct access. If not, and you hit the registration wall, you can access the article by opening the chat, scrolling down to the comment from "Chantilly, VA", and clicking on "The Legacy".

Again, respecting the Post's preferences, I won't quote the article. But I will explain why this man struck me as suffering from BPD.

First, there was the issue of impulse control. As you will see if you read the article, he acted out violently on more than one occasion, deliberately hurting a family pet [it survived], threatening to kill himself and others repeatedly, holding his wife hostage at gunpoint...

Add hostility. Which is obvious above, but comes through in icy clarity, layer upon layer, in the circumstances of his suicide.

The night he killed himself, he again held his wife hostage at gunpoint... for hours. Then had her call his daughter at work, and pull her off the job - as he had done, apparently, many times before.

Daughter came home, could not convince father to give up firearm, did manage to take mother away for an interval. While they were away, having coffee, trying to figure out what on earth to do, but too dazed to come up with any real options - or even to understand how endangered they were,

he killed himself.

And he did all this...

on his son's Prom Night.

Leaving behind not one, but three suicide notes - which, from their contents, seemed intended to "split" the family forever.

Unable to kill them, did he try to kill their relationship?

This was not depression. This was borderline rage.

This was punishment of his son
for beginning to have a life of his own;
of his daughter
for doing the same;
of his wife -
for escaping, even temporarily?

Because, God help her, she went back.

And her daughter went back with her.

And I am certain - absolutely certain - that if he had not committed suicide while they were away, neither mother nor daughter would have survived that night,

and son would have come home to discover them all.

A Prom Memory to last a lifetime.

That is the greatest tragedy of Borderline PD.

It is not merely self-destructive; it wants to take everyone and everything within its reach down with it, when it goes.


Blogger CZBZ said...

Thank you for this entry. I posted a link to it on WoN and warned readers that it might be 'triggering'.

I read the article last night and woke up thinking about it...what a powerful testimony to the daughter's courage and moral strength.


08 May, 2009 16:40  
Blogger Stormchild said...

She was remarkably brave, wasn't she. And still is, if that article is any indication.

Since writing this post, I've been thinking more about the fact that mom and daughter didn't call the cops, the night dad shot himself. And about daughter having figured out why.

Never mind the shame and secret-keeping. Never mind the No-Talk Rule. All of that was there, but it wasn't the biggest reason for their silence.

On the deepest level, she and mom both knew it wouldn't do any good to involve the police. They knew dad would just charm the officers into going away - and leaving him with his gun. Then he'd punish the womenfolk afterwards for 'causing trouble'.

Standard abuser tactics. Standard borderline tactics, too. Hold it together long enough to fool anyone with more power than you have, then let it rip when you're safely able to act out again.

Which leads me to wonder how much the man drank, on top of everything else, and whether he was intoxicated the night he killed himself. I really think his wife and daughter are lucky to be alive.

And I think his daughter knows that.

The article is 13 years old now. I hope very much that Life has been good to her in the years since she wrote it.

09 May, 2009 19:28  
Blogger Stormchild said...

& thanks for the backlink, too :-).

09 May, 2009 19:32  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home