I need your feedback regarding my sister. I am pretty confident she has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). If you look up the symptoms, she checks the box on every one: explosive irrational anger, neediness, fear of abandonment, erratic behavior, depression, problems with the law, etc.
I think my mother had it too, and she takes after her so much. That is ironic as my sister hates all that my mother was, yet she is just like her and doesn’t see it.
Everyone who has known her has begged her to go to counseling and get help—boyfriends, bosses who cared enough, friends, family—but she won’t. She will drop the boyfriend, quit the job, or cut the friend or family member out of her life, anything not to have to listen to it.
It’s like she is terrified of facing the truth and will go to extremes to avoid facing the fact she has a mental illness or deal with her problem, whatever it is.
We’ve had an on-again off-again relationship for 20 years. I take the brunt of her anger and abuse and seem to be her “target of blame.” Being in a relationship with her, even long distance, is draining and stressful, punctuated by moments of true laughter and warmth when she is in a stable state.
There is so much about her that I love. She is very giving and humble, funny and smart. But those moments are overshadowed by other issues. She is also extremely needy and always looking for affirmations, or she flies into rages over minute things and makes horrific abusive statements.
Some of her rages have been physical towards me. For most of our life our relationship is something I have endured rather than enjoyed. It took years for others in my family to see what was happening; they chalked it up to a “personality conflict” between her and I.
They live in another state, so they didn’t see everything. I showed a message I received recently from my sister with BPD to my other sister. She was shocked and said she had no idea it was that bad. Now she gets it, I think.
I’ve had the conversations with her. I wrote her long heartfelt letters about how I want her to get help and live a happy life. I’ve sat her down, offered to pay for counseling, and suggested organizations with hotlines she could call. I did the “calm and collected” thing to reason with her and show her that I do love her.
None of it worked. It doesn’t stop her abuse, and she shows no signs of taking action to get help and get healthy. It’s just the same cycle of abuse. She does something horrific, then runs away for a year and comes back with long apologies. I believe she will change, and she never does.
I want off the Ferris wheel. I want to terminate this relationship permanently as I am done. I honestly don’t feel my sister will ever get help. She is 40 and shows no sign of getting better.
I feel horrible as she has a daughter. I’m considering finding a way to keep contact with my niece, so she knows she has a place to go when she gets older. I will have to deal with my sister, but I can keep it cordial and superficial maybe. What should I do?
Dominique, you painted a full picture. Your letter deserves a full answer, which we will give next week.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Direct Answers Column for the week of March 4, 2019
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Wayne & Tamara answer as many letters as they possibly can.