Personality Disorder: "An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that differs markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment. Personality Disorders are a long-standing and maladaptive pattern of perceiving and responding to other people and to stressful circumstances. " – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition
Many times I have heard that it is impossible to co-parent with an ex with a personality disorder. I will grant you that it is difficult but it is possible. I have learned this the hard way. I can't tell you how many times I have hung my head and thought, "I don't understand why he does this." Then, I learned.
It was a matter of slapping a label on what he was ,. It was a matter of understanding why he does what he does. That meant taking a trip through his history to truly "get it".
Attention seeking is one of the many problems that I deal with when it comes to my ex. When someone gets sick, he gets sicker; when something bad happens to someone, it's all about him and how it affects him; and, if there's nothing going on in someone else's life that he can prey off of, he puts on clothing with holes in them or pretends to be sick so people will have sympathy for him. Poor poor him. But why does he do it? The answer is simple. It's in his history.
Growing up in a family of ten children couldn't have been easy. Getting the attention that he craved and needed as a child must have been extremely difficult. His father worked three jobs to put food on the table and his mother was busy tending to the needs of the younger children so he had to find a way to get the attention that a child so greatly deserved. In order to get the attention that he craved, he started to create situations where he could get the attention that he needed and the acting skills to be able to make people believe it. This pattern of behavior carried in to his adult life.
It was once I stood back and looked at this that I started to understand what drives him to need attention and that made it easier to deal with. I stopped thinking, "Why does he do this?" and started thinking, "I understand." With this new perspective, it became easier to deal with him because I had sympathy. I was able to remove conflict and empower our children to deal with an attention seeker.