First, I want to make clear that I'm not upset or taking anyone's advice negatively, it's hard to take context from written correspondence. I'm also not getting defensive, I just want to make sure that there is a context in play people are aware of and to not just treat it like a normal affair.
Second, I'm here because even though her BPD is a major component of her behaviors, the feelings I have are the same as other betrayed spouses. I still get the feelings of anger, shame, disrespect, demasculating loss of self, etc. I find myself in a place without friends to talk to about this. I can't vent or get feedback from anyone except our therapists. Because this is shameful and embarrassing, I cant find myself talking to anyone about it in my personal circle. The only person I thought I could talk to slept with her. So that means trusting anyone else will be hard. Don't want to discuss this with family because I don't want those judgemental eyes staring at either one of us if we R. But right now, I'm consumed by feelings of wanting revenge against her APs. The fact I'm hurting and going thru this and they get off without consequences bothers me. They all knew she was married and they didn't care. It'd be different if they didn't know, but they did. I've met most of them. They all met my kids. So I want them to hurt back. And knowing I can hurt them but I'm not hurts me even more, like I'm letting them walk all over me.
Third, my treatment consists of seeing an individual therapist and a marriage counselor. We've been given books to read as homework, and I'm going over the impacts of the affair on my life. I'm already dealing with PTSD for another issue (which is why I don't have a lot of friends), so this made things worse. But I'm working on me, and I have establish boundaries with her on what I need and what I expect from her.
Forth, what has she done to help me heal?
Please – a KEY ISSUE to reconciling from infidelity is IMHO that the betrayed spouse totally 100% refuses any accountability for the WS decision to cheat.
She has taken 100% accountability for her actions. Her BPD may put her mind in the position to cheat, but she knew it was wrong and still chose to do it. She could have said no, but instead drank to lower her own inhibitions to make it easier to say yes. She wanted to cheat. She admits it. She has told me what she remembers, including very detailed descriptions of what happened. The only time she tried to hide something was the threesome, but she confessed to that on the second day. While there are some questions she still hasn't answered because she says she can't remember, it has been nearly a decade and she has told me far worse things to hear than any of the answers I've asked for. I have access to her phone, accounts, even the secret one she used to hide her affairs. I have read her journals, then and now, to see what she was thinking. She has been transparent. I get enraged sometimes by what I'm told or read, but I listen. It was her idea to post here to vent because I was bottling it up. But we talk daily, she answers questions whenever they pop in my mind. So she helps me with my recovery.
What if – 2 years from now – you miss out on her being angry at you for forgetting her birthday? Could that trigger a "reasonable" response from her to have another affair?
That's a legitimate concern. It's her biggest fear. But in two years, she'll have a better understanding of her BPD and the tools to control it. Right now, she doesn't trust herself and has closed nearly all of her social media accounts and dropped all of her friends. She had isolated herself. But she's read more books the last month than the last few years and she's learning the tools to evaluate her emotions to understand them.
IMHO you seem too quick to blame the recently diagnosed BPD (btw have you asked for a 2nd opinion ?) at least in part or indirectly for her decisions to commit adultery, keep in mind many people have BPD and don't cheat,
I keep reading this from people. I'm not blaming the BPD for her affairs. She had choices, she chose to cheat. That's on her. But she does have BPD and it does cause impulsive and self destructive behavior. And BPD does influence life choices. I cannot disregard either of those facts: she chose to cheat and she does have BPD as diagnosed by 2 therapists. As for the remark that many people with BPD don't cheat, that's not the argument. The real argument is how many people who cheat have BPD?
Marriage therapist Daniel Dashnaw, who specializes in marriages of people with personality disorders, wrote: "Serial infidelity has been correlated with personality disorders. To be specific, three personality disorders; Narcissism, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Psychopathy... Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by unstable emotions. They are partners who are fundamentally emotionally unstable and inherently unreliable. They are also poorly organized, careless, and self-indulgent. They find it very difficult to resist temptation, maintain personal boundaries, and resist attractive others...The essential problem with BPD is poor impulse control, compromised adult reasoning, and an inability to self-soothe and express empathy. In all intimate relationships, including illicit ones, a person with Borderline Personality Disorder will often display irrational jealousy, emotional volatility, and may become both physically and emotionally abusive... For such people "love" is subordinated to intense feelings of painful yearning and powerful desire. Thus, people with BPD are often compelled to chase partners who are emotionally unavailable. Their yearning is fueled by the chaos and drama of pursuing an unattainable partner."
Infidelity and BPD does have some connection to each other and in undiagnosed patients, it's a time bomb. This is why her treatment is important to my recovery. If she cannot utilize her treatment and maintain control of herself thru CBT/DBT therapy or maintain my boundaries, then we can't R. If I don't help her, then it's counterproductive to her mental well being, making her feel the abandonment she fears internally, and we can't R. So we have to work and help each other, because if I can't see her putting in the work, I'll never trust her again and we can't R. Helping her means I can process why she did what she did as I go thru her journey to understand her BPD.
But I do have my limits. She must attend therapy for her BPD. She must be honest with me about everything. Any lies and I'm out. She must be transparent about everything. If an AP reaches out, she must tell me. She must also tell them not to contact her ever again and block them. She must tell me anything she remembers about her affairs that we haven't discussed. She must tell me her feelings when she gets upset so we can keep her emotions under control. BTW, that's been working out great. We've had less arguments now as we process her emotions when she gets upset. It's interesting how little a thing can trigger a response from her.
Lastly, I think we need to be careful on how we give advise to people. We all hurt, but we were all hurt in different ways. I think we need to be careful and not transfer our stories to another person. I think telling someone who caught their spouse in just an emotional affair or sexting situation to DNA test their kids or get an STD test might be excessive. And people are quicker to tell others to get an attorney than they are to get therapist. You can get a divorce anytime, but mental health recovery needs to start right away. Maybe we can start focusing on the betrayed person and ask them what they feel and what they want and help them get to a point where they can decide what they need. Instead of saying get a DNA test on the kids, we ask if there is a concern about the timing of their affair and when their kids were born. No sense telling someone whose spouse just had an affair this year to get a DNA test on their 12 year old kid. It's already stressful and poisoning there thoughts makes it worse. Being direct sometimes makes things worse, we just need to build them up to a point where they can take it in. Follow the stages of grief and help them process where they are. That's why I'm here.