Relationship Partner with BPD (Straight and LGBT+) => Romantic Relationship | Bettering a Relationship or Reversing a Breakup => Topic started by: Ray2017 on January 17, 2020, 09:47:49 AM

Title: Postmortem on a Conversation
Post by: Ray2017 on January 17, 2020, 09:47:49 AM
I stepped in it pretty good today, and I am looking for a little bit of advice to dissect/analyze what I did wrong and practical steps/things to say next time (because there will be a next time).  The conversation, condensed:

(4 year old son wakes up with a fever/cough/congestion.  Was supposed to go on a fun play date, allowing H to have 5-7 hours of kid free time, which was subsequently cancelled)

Me:  I can tell that this is frustrating to you.  Why don't I take a half day off work so you can do something fun, and I'll go in the afternoon; a compromise of sorts?

Him:  There's no point.  This is what happens when I make plans/try to do the right thing (he wanted to get some OT at work). 

Me:  I truly don't mind, and my schedule is light enough that I can take the morning off.  Happy to do it!

Him:  I would feel too guilty that you would miss work.  I always have to be the one to compromise my schedule.  I've been blacklisted at work because I have a wife that works full time (*note: I work 24 hours/week - 3 days, and am very much home the other 4.  I haven't had a kid-free/husband-free day since 2011).

Me:  I am so sorry that you feel like you lost the promotion or are blacklisted at work because I work.  I do only work 24 hours a week, and those 24 hours are based on your schedule.  You can certainly do OT when I get home from work or overnight - whenever you want, I'm good with it!

Him:  I'm trying to do everything right and this is what I get for it.

(I am totally, completely triggered at this point, and I was in tears.  I do almost everything around the house, make sure he has lots of self-care time, time away from the kids, which I do more for the kids to limit the contact with his moods, but still.  To be told that he feels *I'm* the reason he lost out on the promotion was like a gut punch, even if it's probably not true)

Him:  See, now I'm the bad guy.  The universe is screwing me and now you're upset.

This is where I lose whatever thin grip I had on my self-control.  Though I didn't yell or raise my voice, I said I felt hurt that I couldn't show my emotions (crying), or be worried that something like our kid getting sick leading him to being angry for days (this last statement was the nail in my coffin, and yes, it was not good; it just slipped out).  He then rails about how much he does, how I don't listen to him; lots of accusations.  I have stopped crying at this point (at least in front of him) and mainly just listen and try to validate.  Then the guilt hits me - our little guy is down on the couch and I'm trying to placate someone I shouldn't even be having this conversation with.

He's texting me about how our daughter better not ask to do anything fun this afternoon or he'll "really lose it"; our son is acting fine now "of course", more about the universe out to get him, he has no friends, the greatest hits.  Before I left I apologized for making things worse.  I feel less triggered by his rage texts now that I'm not sitting with him, but they're still getting under my skin.  I am responding with validation, and SET if necessary. 

Side note: my therapist is helping me work on not taking things so personally (she is having my try to visualize taking the accusations he makes and place them in a box or container; she's big into visualization).  I tried (sort of), but the hit had already landed hard.

My problem is this:  I don't want the kids growing up feeling guilty that they're sick, or hurt, or whatever that inconveniences him, yet is really out of their control.  I know I can't and shouldn't care take his moods, but I am so worried when the kids are around him when he's like this.  That's why I offer to sacrifice everything - not necessarily for him (though it does benefit him), but for the kids.  That's my conundrum; how do I balance their needs with not turning myself into a pretzel and feeling like I have literally failed on every front (my kids are doomed emotionally, I'm not as good of an employee as I would like, and my H is still mad at me)?   

So, suggestions anyone?  Even 'you should have walked away a lot sooner' is fine.   

Title: Re: Postmortem on a Conversation
Post by: Ozzie101 on January 17, 2020, 10:44:48 AM
Hi Ray! :hi:

I can't promise this will be fully accurate and I'm sure others will have other perspectives, but here goes:

It sounds like you tried to do some SET validation, which is good. However, after the first offer to take off for him, when he showed what kind of mood he was in, I would have dropped it. The self sacrifice offers may well have increased his feelings of inadequacy/guilt/shame. Not to mention making you look weak. I've learned that my conciliatory nature and giving in to avoid fights looks like weakness to my H -- something that can really scare a pwBPD. Much better if I stay firm and strong.

When he's dysregulating most likely isn't the best time to express that you feel hurt with being unable to express emotions. That's a conversation to have in a calm, balanced time and with careful communication.

I know how easy it is to get triggered by a loved one. It hit me big time! But I've been making a lot of progress lately. One thing I've done: I made a list of my triggers, the things I know that upset me. Seeing them, identifying them, helps me to avoid actually being triggered. If H hits on a sore spot, I can think "Ah. That's one of my trigger spots." It's easier for me to be detached. It also helps that my H admitted to me that he will deliberately say things to trigger other people to get an emotional response. So, basically, he tipped his hand and I can clearly see "Oop, there he goes! I'm not playing."

Title: Re: Postmortem on a Conversation
Post by: Ray2017 on January 17, 2020, 12:01:53 PM
Thanks, Ozzie.  You're always there (for me and everyone else)!  I should make a list of my triggers (if I start now, perhaps I'll be done by the end of 2020  lol).  You are absolutely right that I should offer once and then stop, and that it's a perceived weakness is an interesting insight.  I tend to over-offer because I'm just so worried about our little guy and being alone with him.  Of course, by making it worse this morning, I left our son with a more dysregulated parent.  I am a talker by nature, so a lot of these things slip out; it certainly wasn't the time to talk about my feelings, but my deep (deep!) resentment stems from the fact that it's never an okay time with him to discuss my feelings.  He views it (he's said this) as I'm competing with him as to who has it worse, which is not okay because he always has it worse (which, of course, is not my intention). 

Thanks again for the input - I'll have plenty of opportunities to put them into practice.  Off to make my list!