BORDERLINE WAIFS AND UNSUNG HEROES; Rescuing The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Be Saved.
BY SHARI SCHREIBER, M.A.
This article is for survivors of a relationship that's had toxic consequences for them. It is not intended for anyone with BPD traits! If you suspect you have borderline personality features, what follows could feel injurious to you! Please leave this site immediately and seek alternative web content that may be more congruent with your personal views and needs.
Given the hundreds of letters I get from men who desperately "want to help" the Borderline after their troubling affair has ended, I suppose this article's time has finally come. I understand that you tirelessly tried to assist her, teach her and rescue her during that relationship, and you're wrestling with letting go of this fixation, weeks or months later. You may even be keeping your perceptions about what really went on for you in your dynamic under wraps, for fear of hurting her feelings--or risking that she'll never speak to you again. In essence, you're still walking on eggshells, and putting her needs first.
The Borderline Waif seldom exhibits the harsh or volatile traits we've come to associate with other BPD types. Waifs usually appear fragile, needful and victimized by their relationships and life circumstances. They seduce you by gaining your sympathy, and this should always be foremost on your mind with lovers and friends.
If your Waif lover has BPD Queen traits, she's dissociated from her dark or negative emotions (like anger), because she believes them to be unacceptable and "wrong," so she sure as hell won't make any room for yours! If she feels reprimanded or criticized, her natural anger will likely be submerged, but may get replaced by an imperious, judgmental, shaming tone, which she'll smack you with, from high atop her pedestal. The Queen always has to occupy the one-up position in all her relationships. If you trigger her core shame, she'll become highly indignant, and deflect these feelings by going on the offensive to shame you. Her reaction is immediate. You'll never see it coming until it's too late.
Any male who grew up having to love an unhappy, discontent or depressed, worried mother will likely be attracted to a Borderline Waif. The central reason for this, is that he tried tenaciously as a child to balance/improve his mother's mood, with the subconscious hope that he could win her affection, and help her become more responsive to his intrinsic needs for tenderness, play and joyful interaction. This means, he came to believe that if he could just repair Her, he might finally feel happier and at peace. As a kid, this was an automatic and reflexive defense he acquired to try and get what he needed, and save himself from further distress. The trouble is, he learned to give, what he very much needed to receive, and that has set the tone for all his attachments in adulthood.
YOU'LL FEEL COMPELLED TO RESCUE A BORDERLINE FROM HER PAIN AND TROUBLES, WHICH SHOULD SET OFF YOUR INTERNAL WARNING SIGNALS!
These people might blame their struggles on elements outside their control, like karmic retribution; "I must have done something really awful in a past life, to have deserved this!" When their relationships falter, they're the victim. If Waifs engage therapeutic support, it's typically in the midst of a severe crisis, rather than engaging help to develop or heal. Given they're inherently resistant to change and growth (which threatens their precarious sense of control) their progress in treatment tends to be very slow, and there are frequent setbacks and regressions.
Since 'helplessness' is the Waif's core emotional theme, options and choices that are healthier or more productive, are generally avoided. Perhaps your lover is continuously struggling with some sort of drama or challenge, and you've repeatedly offered sound suggestions and tried to help--but to no avail. As difficult as this is to fathom, when you throw a life preserver to a Waif, she ignores/disregards it (throws it back), or resents the gesture. As motivated as you might feel to help, you've entered a no-win situation.
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