For the most part, I have been following this program for the past few years. Not all of the details above would be appropriate for me with BPDmom, as she is my DH's ex wife and I do not have a very intimate relationship with her, so detailed problem solving would not really be useful...but a lot of the language I have used.
What I notice is that she really wants to pull me in to her drama, and some of these methods result in me getting pulled in. Not getting upset with her, but spending a long time out in the parking lot listening to her 1-2 hour rants and answers to questions like, "Is there something I can do to help you with that?" or her response to, "I hear that is really hard for you. I imagine that must be difficult." The result is usually eventual peace, at the expense of whatever else I was doing before the attack, such as watching my step-daughter's play, etc.
LAst week, at SD7's school play, I did something I felt really bad about in the moment, but it had a different impact. I said "hi" to BPD mom, and she turned on me with rage--basically asking me not to ever say hi again, and outlining how I am a bad person. This was all in front of the kids, who were very stressed. I said validating things, then (when she continued to rant and rave), I stated a boundary, "I am willing to talk with you about this later, but not right now, so I am going to go to the other side of the room."
She kept following me, wherever I went, ranting. She would start off by saying, "I am sorry, but you are just...(fill in some mean, bad things)." I just got done with her leaving her 7 year old, who was the star of the play, to wander after me yelling and raising her fists. This night was about the kids, not about the grownups.
Finally, I looked at her and said, "You should be sorry. You should be ashamed." For the record, I do not really think ANYONE should be ashamed, if ashamed means to feel bad about who you are. If ashamed means to be conscious of ways you harm others, I think feeling that sort of shame is useful and important. But I do not think this is a good or nice thing to say.
I truly do not think the kids heard that; they just saw me stand up to their mom in a totally calm and regulated way, and walk away from the drama. So often, I am gentle and kind in response to the drama.
What changed was that it was the first time SD11 got mad at her mom for making a fuss. It was the first time that both kids remained loving and connected to me and their dad when mom was their and upset (usually, they ignore us and cling to mom). Most of BPDmom's friends made a point of being kind to me in front of her and the kids. Two friends of hers spoke to her about the negative impact of her dysregulated emotion on the kids, about how hard it is on them when she needs them to hate DH and I.
I do not know if this stuff will help. Maybe mom will freak out this week, and the kids will need to come to her rescue. I am not sure how much I triggered her. And ultimately, I want to be a loving person, not someone who asks others to feel shame.
That said, I think that me calmly standing up for myself, even though my words may not have been the best, provided space for SD11 to stand up for herself, and for others to stand up for themselves and to create an environment in which it was clear to the kids mom was out of control but still loved by her friends. This is the think about just doing things that lessen conflict--it encourages all present to do the same, to walk away, pretend it is not happening. There is something about VALIDATING dysregulation that makes others pretend it is okay. That makes it hard for anyone to say "no." So I guess for those of us not in a romantic partnership with a BPD person, I would say there is some line between totally validating, and not taking the person so very seriously that is important to being able to create one's own environment.
I am not really sure what the "right" way is here. But what I observe is that there is a trade-off involved in the choice whether to validate or not. Validating makes less conflict, makes the BPD person feel better and thus make less fuss. It helps them to regulate. This is good for the kids to see, also safer, and also models for the kids how to deal with a crazy person to make them more safe.
On the other hand, kids experience mom as "normal", even when mom is invalidating their needs and experience. Focusing energy on the dysregulated person means she is getting a reward for "acting out," and that the happy kids performing in a play are not getting the attention they want associated with their hard work and good cheer. I notice that if I focus on the dysregulated person, even when doing "everything right", I only later notice I ignored the kids. I also notice that the kids then perceive mom's behavior as "working." But to "cut off" mom's behavior, to ignore it and focus on the stuff that is more interesting to me, is not as simple as walking away or speaking in a kind way a particular boundary. I am just more focused, at this time, in validating the behavior that is inspiring, loving, kind, and fun, because I want a more happy life than I have when I am busy validating someone who is yelling and spewing hatred. I find that eventually, after 2-3 hours, validating mom makes HER feel better. But sometimes, in SD7's big moment, I want to validate that instead. Or for SD11, I want to validate her anger, not her mom's fit throwing. I guess I am starting to notice that with a BPD person, if you pay attention to her all the time, she will consume as much attention as you give her. And most of it involves listening to really mean and ugly things. When I spend time around that, I am more like that . When I spend time being with kind people, I am more like that. So while I think working towards being more loving in times of crisis is a great goal, and I am on board...I am not sure that validating it is always the fastest, safest route away from drama claiming center stage. Sometimes, a little bit of a cold shoulder goes a long way.