A Compassionate Look at Personality Disorders

The daily bible app on my phone today reminded me of how God sees us all, even those who deal with a personality disorder.

Colossians 3:12-14

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

This quote makes me think of two things:

(1) dealing with a narcissist is easier when I consider how he looks at the world and how the world feels to him.  It doesn’t mean I have to give up myself or my boundaries, just that I can’t change him, but I can try to get to what my kids and I need faster if I consider how to work with or around his issues rather than butting up against the unchangable.

I’ve done a post in the past about how I am glad I am not my ex… life must feel so disorienting to him all the time, and such a challenge.  He must have had a hard childhood and really cannot feel that true connection with others now as an adult.  He struggles all the time to have any type of relationship with others and as a result has to force them (e.g…. telling our daughter how she has to do visitation with him when she says she doesn’t want to).   He repeats the same failures in his life and cannot recognize why (we all do, but his are a bigger magnitude).  Most of his actions are driven, ironically, but such a strong sense of insecurity and pain inside that he feels he has to lash out at the world and work hard to hide this pain inside by portraying a false exterior.  Every day is a focus on himself because that’s really all he is capable of doing.

(2) That forgiveness is REALLY HARD when someone has really wronged you.  My favorite quote for forgiveness is “I forgive you for not being what I wanted you to be” by Louise Hay.   God Bless… isn’t that true with narcissism?  They portray themselves to be whatever you want them to be, and then you find out that it was just a facade.  So, her phrase of forgiveness feels just perfectly fit to the situation.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean finding what they did acceptable, it means being able to move on from it and setting yourself free from the anger and resentment that are hurting you, and not them.

12 Responses to “A Compassionate Look at Personality Disorders”

  1. Anthony Chris says:

    How typical, that all of the comments are by females, with a male being the narcissist or mentally ill individual. Hi, I’m a male. My ex is narcissistic, has borderline personality disorder, and is bipolar. I was dumb enough to have a son with her, and he is my pride and joy. She faked abuse, put me through hell trying to visit my poor son through plate glass or with a social worker for 9 months. Then dropped all charges admitting only to me that they were falsified. I regained primary physical custody, and eventually even final decision making power. Then she managed to change the venue to a new judge 6 years later. She manipulated and lied her way into 50/50 custody, in typical 50/50 is the only “fair” thing to do. And the judge bought it hook line and sinker. It’s really sad that most websites only view the male/dad/father as the narcissist, or abuser, or mentally ill individual. Add the fact that most judges, states are all “mother’s rights” states. Whether outright, or just as a norm. And it’s really hard to look at the uphill battle I face to help my son grow up halfway normal. BTW, he’s autistic, and you can only imagine how a week on week off schedule is affecting him.

    So… perhaps opening ones eyes to the fact that mom’s can be the problem, might make this a little more fair.

    • Hi Anthony,

      I welcome your comments here to help build awareness of the fact that it isn’t just men who are narcissistic/NPD/bipolar. I personally believe that a NPD mom is a worse situation to deal with. There are many books written by people who have grown up with a NPD mom and the challenges they faced/face. I’m truly sorry that you have had to go through that, and that your son has to deal with this new situation in combo with having the challenge of autism. I have written research papers about children on the autism spectrum, and they have enough challenges in understanding the world the way it is – he doesn’t need this as well.

      In terms of the website – I started it and wrote it from my own experiences. From that perspective, I can only personally relate to an ex of the male gender. However, I firmly believe that the court system needs to understand personality disorders and their impact on children regardless of the parent’s gender. I also firmly believe that men can be fabulous, caring, involved fathers (I have one and know many). Hopefully what I have put out here (which is very personal and isn’t very common to find) can help you as well, at least from knowing that you aren’t the only one dealing with a disordered ex and an ineffective family court system.

      Please accept my apologies for coming off as gender biased. I certainly never meant to do so.

      • Anthony Chris says:

        Thank you. When frustrated in the moment, it is easy to look past the positive information and focus on the stumbling blocks that are bothering.

  2. Angela says:

    This site is God sent! I just got on it today and am so so grateful. THANK YOU!
    I am dealing with a possible NBD or BPD ex boyfriend with whom we now have a 9 week old daughter. We only dated for 4 months and I completely ended it at the beginning of the pregnancy. He continued to badger me the whole pregnancy. His distorted personality continues to unveil itself. I have never felt such hate in my heart for someone. That hate in my heart is toxic and has taken enough of my joy. All of the advice above has helped and I will work so hard at mastering it because I refuse to be consumed by this. It is easier said than done for me right now though. I will take any and all advice, wisdom, and coping tools anyone can share!
    Thanks again!

  3. Sessica says:

    I think the key is understanding who they are. That the way someone with NPD or another personality disorder views the world is so off that you do have to have some pity for them. However, that understanding is not approving of their behavior or continuing to be in their line of fire.

    I’m not sure what is wrong with my X – I actually think he may have BPD instead of NPD – but I know that less I have to do with him, the stronger I can be for my kids because he like a vampire…sucking all the joy and happiness out of me and my kids that I need to be there to fill them back up again.

    • Agreed on understanding why they may act like they do but not approving it. As for the personality disorder list – there is so much co-morbidity and similar traits across the disorders, it’s easy not to know for sure. At the end of the day, it’s a person who’s the psychologist behind the definition of the disorder, and they are still learning and evolving their understanding of it too. I also call my ex a “black hole of needs” – and the closer in you walk the more drained you feel. I imagine during any interaction with him that I have a warm, loving ball of light around me protecting me from his draining energies. It seems silly, but it works so well! Good for you for helping your kids to recharge and re-energize 🙂 I’m cheering you on…

  4. JenelleMarie says:

    Great post! I’m challenging myself to say nothing negative (even internally) about him for 30 days and when I feel the urge to give it up to God because really accepting him as he is, is about all I can do in the situation. And I truly do feel empathy for the life he lives, the world he is captive inside his own head.

  5. KariJo says:

    Love love love that quote about forgiveness! Thanks for sharing.
    I often find myself chasing my tail in the circle of
    -he is such a jerk(sometimes stronger words)
    -he really can’t help it bc of the NPD
    -how sad to have an illness that you 1. have no clue you have and 2. it destroys all your relationships and not understand that HE is the reason
    -almost a feeling of pity/sadness for him
    – anger at how unfair it is to me to have to work around HIS illness and try to co-parent.

    I can only describe the circle as musical chairs and when he engages me, depending where I am at in the circle, depends on the reaction he will recieve. I am working on making another chair of reality, he is who he is and I will NEVER be able to change that.

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