Holding to boundaries with BPD co-parent. Doing more harm than good?

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keepmesane:
HELP. I need tips for have a more positive relationship with BPD co-parent and set good boundaries that will actually do something positive.  It feels like peace only exists if I give in to all demands made by BPD ex spouse. The volcano that erupts if I try to enforce a boundary is so painful.  I try to pick my battles, but it feels like even on the battles I pick, it just makes things worse. I desperately want a good relationship for the kids sake. It just seems impossible. She will not keep any agreements we make with the therapist and I feel like I just waste my money and energy on something that won't change.
 
For example, she won't follow through on an order to have supervised visitation while with the kids (then says I'm the bad guy with the kids when I try to enforce it), she will only attend joint counseling for a few visits and then stops and refuses to attend mediation to resolve issue.

When I decide to enforce the boundaries, she puts the kids in the middle and they are hurt worse than they already are (by the way, 2 of 3 of our children have been diagnosed BPD as well as adolescents and they are in our custody).  I'm beginning to wonder if having boundaries does anything but create more drama. 

Specifically, does anyone have experience with whether supervised visitation (it's with some family friends and then follow up monitored by our family therapist) is worth the intense amount of work it requires to keep it going? My ex will never get it set up and then expect to pick up the kids anyway and get angry when they cannot come because she has not followed through on her committment. The kids get upset, even when they are told that we would love to have them see mom as soon as possible, but she must meet the agreements she made in mediation for the weekend to take place.

Her Mama:
To get to where you are, I'm sure it entailed a lot of work.  The situation you have now (and if I am understanding this correctly, you have custody, she has supervised visitation with follow up with a T) is nearly as perfect as it gets when dealing with the BPD parent.  I know it doesn't seem perfect, or easy, but it is what is best for your children.  No matter how difficult it is now, try to remember what it was like when you were together, and try to envision what it would be like if you stayed.  To give up now would be like sending the kids back in, in your place.  They would be put through hell just like you were.

Who cares what she thinks?  You have to let that part go.  You are doing what needs to be done to protect your children.  Everything WILL be worth it.  Try to keep going and post here as often as you want to.  Sometimes, all you really need is a place to vent and pick up some tips here and there.

The kids need to understand that there is a process here.  If they are old enough, talk to them and listen.  Empathize with their disappointments.  Perhaps going to the T when things don't go as planned so they can vent their frustrations and perhaps learn a coping skill in dealing with that disappointment.

koko:
Please read the book Divorce Poison.  It will not necessarily help you have a better relationship with your ex, but it will help you to understand why it is important to keep boundaries, even when it is so difficult as you are describing.  Almost always, when someone tries to set any boundaries with a BPD person, there is tremendous chaos--as you describe it can make things seem that they are even worse.  However, if you do not hold to the boundaries you will find that you will continue to always walk on eggshells and do her bidding.  While you are an adult and can make this choice if you wish to continue your life under her rule in order to keep peace, but the message that you are modeling to your children in doing that is an especially brutal one.  It says to them "Your mother is Almighty, and no one can stand up to her.  I cannot stand up to her and you cannot.  We are nothing.  She will destroy you if you try to be your own person."  Although it is very difficult to do, your job is to demonstrate to them that there are limits and boundaries and protection.  She will not destroy them or destroy you.

Please believe me when I tell you that i understand what you are going through.  In our situation there were teens also.   There was also a history of walking on eggshells in order to keep her happy at all costs.  So of course when this changed there was all hell to pay.  And I cannot tell you that it is over in a few weeks or even months.  But you will never ever have a life if you don't figure out how to do it.  I am very sorry regarding your children, do they have actual BPD diagnosis?  I ask, because a teen's exposure to BPD behavior (and all the drama/trauma you describe) can sometimes lead to modeling the behavior, not necessarily having the disorder.

Also, I am a little unclear, but if the visitation is supervised, that would be court ordered I am assuming.  In that situation, I believe you really must follow the court order to the best of your ability.  And forgive me, I don't know details of your situation.  But generally speaking judges do not order supervised visitation unless there are real concerns regarding the parent's ability to parent and even ensure basic safety.  I sense that there is a very important reason she has supervised visitation.  I sense you are in a very serious situation here.  That makes it even more critical to do what the court order says.  We practically have a mantra here--stick to the court order in all situations.

Meanwhile, I totally get how draining this is.  And it is very sad for your children to watch this drama.  :'( But unfortunately it is the reality.  Your always "being good" in order to keep the truth of how she is/what she is like simply dosn't work in the long run.  When there is nothing obvious to rage about, they will rage about something, there is no way you will ever be able to really control it, because it is an illness and it is in her.  One of the things we have had to learn to deal with is that we cannot protect the children from some of the things that their mother does--the emotional pain she puts them through with her scenes.

As K's Stepmom stated, you have done a lot of work to get this far.  Please post here and get needed support.  there are many of us who have gone through what you are going through.  For us, not stricktly supervised visitation, but other similar things that created chaos and often made it feel not worth it.

My best to you.   Peace.  Koko

nowwhat:
Keepmesane,
If you inforce your boundries inconsistantly it encourages the momster to act up even more because she never know if it is going to work or not.  Consistancy is the key.  Will it get worse before it gets better?  Yes.  But, they do eventually learn.

keepmesane:
Thank you, thank you, thank you...all of you. I am so glad to find people who understand and can help me sort this through. I feel like I'm taking a drink of water after being in the desert. 

Yes, our teens have an official diagnosis , but no, they have refused more counseling now that meds were suggested. The T said we are wasting our money until they really choose to help themselves.

We love the book Divorce Poison, but it's been 2 years since we've read that "bible" and it sounds like we should read it as a refresher. Your quote from the book was something I had forgotten and it's KEY.

Supervised visitation is not in an official court order, but was agreed to in mediation after several domestic abuse incidents. So in her mind, she can do whatever she wants because she's changed her mind and it's not spelled out clearly in the court order (it just says we have to use the T to make and follow through on decisions--one of which was supervised visitation).  As a bright spot, we do believe we could get a judge to enforce a stricter order and ex just filed bankruptcy so we could probably get it done.

 T was assigned for family counseling, but ex has used it to try and manipulate and show she's the good guy.  Because T is new, he is still learning about her and the inconsistencies and patterns that are old hat to us. He is just beginning to question her and of course, that leads to her blocking joint counseling just enough to make progress impossible (I can't come for another month with my work schedule) but she'll come in just before she knows we'll take her to court.

She has refused to provide info for child support as well, so we are starting that process, but they say it can take up to a year to resolve a case with an uncooperative ex.

I hear what you are all saying about staying the course...the most compelling reason being for the kids to understand that they don't need to give in to her demands. We will stay the course!   But OH MY!  I feel like so much energy is used up! 

Next question--we minimize contact with ex, but she is calling the kids several times a day and does as much damage in those conversations as if they were together---i.e. Your dad is unreasonable, he is controlling, I'll do everything I can to change custody and get you back here, your dad won't agree to any of the supervised visitation people I pick, etc.

How can we create more control around communication without doing something she would report in court (I can hear it now--he's blocking communication) or from the kids (you are sabatoging our relationship wiht mom). ?

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