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Author Topic: 1.23 | Dealing with Enmeshment and Codependence  (Read 34014 times)
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« on: February 03, 2010, 10:14:42 AM »

BPD is a mental illness. Those who suffer from it have a severe fear of abandonment - no respect for other peoples boundaries - poor self control - are extremely emotionally reactive - and can be very needy and draining on those who care for them.

It's easy to get sucked into playing the care taker role in an attempt to protect them from themselves. To take on more responsibility than you should.

It's also easy to change your responses in an attempt to prevent any blow ups. To walk on eggshells in an effort to keep the peace.

Both of these responses come at a price to us - the nons.

We wind up spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about THEM and not thinking about ourselves. We put our needs and our desires on the back burner, hoping that eventually we will be repaid for our kindness and thoughtfulness. We suffer from the opposite of our BPD loved ones - we suffer from co-dependency.



Excerpt
Shawn Meghan Burn, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the California Polytechnic State University, says “Codependent relationships are a specific type of dysfunctional helping relationship." Burn defines a codependent relationships as a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables the other person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

People with a predisposition to be a codependent enabler often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person's poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs.

For the enabler a codependent relationship fulfills a strong drive to feel needed. Some enablers always need to be in a relationship because they feel lost or lonely when they’re by themselves.  Codependents are often inherently afraid of being rejected or abandoned, even if they can function on their own, and in these cases the enabling behavior is a way to mitigate fears of abandonment.  Codependent enablers often lack in self-worth and define their worth through another's eyes, thoughts, or views of them. They need other people to validate them to feel okay about themselves and without this, they are unable to find their own worth or identity.  For some, the codependent relationship will satisfy the need to feel competent and low self-esteem is boosted by comparing oneself to the dysfunctional partner.

For the enabled person the dependence on the enabler is equally profound. In a codependent relationship, their poor functioning essentially brings them much needed love, care, and concern from an enabler and they are accepted as they are with their addiction, or poor mental or physical health.  The enabler's consistent support reduces the outside pressures on the enabled person to mature, or advance their life skills or confidence.  And, due to their below average functioning, the enabled person may have few relationships as close as their relationship with the enabler. This makes them highly dependent on the enabler to satisfy needs normally met by multiple close relationships.


See Complete Article]https://bpdfamily.com/content/codependency-codependent-relationships]See Complete Article

Do you see yourself doing this?
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2010, 10:42:31 AM »

Sure, I've walked on eggshells and been a caretaker -- a classic codependent -- although less so since learning about BPD.  Now my uBPDw complains that I'm selfish because I put myself first, at least some of the time.  I respond that if I don't take care of myself I can't take care of her and our children.

I think we nons need to carve out space for ourselves.  I turn off my cell phone and won't take calls from my W when I need a break from her.

Last weekend I went to Vermont, by myself, to see some old college friends.  My W complained about it and used the usual obligation and guilt (not fear) to get me to stay, but I went anyway.  I have to, for my own sanity.

Once again, UFN, you have hit the nail on the head!  Thanks for bringing up this topic.

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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2010, 10:44:22 AM »

You don't have to be codependent to get involved with a pwBPD, but I'd say you have to be codependent to actually STAY involved with one after the first few red flags pop up. Some here will disagree.

I asked a particular person here well versed in the disorder, very active and respected, if they thought all people who stayed in the r/s were codependent and he said something like 99.99%, if not 100%, were. I didn't think of myself as codependent at that time, but now I believe I was the classic blind case of one.

I guess there could be those who met their BPD, married very quickly (for whatever reason, which in itself may be a question), and then stayed out of a moral or religious belief. Perhaps they wouldn't all be codependent.

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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2010, 10:56:34 AM »

You don't have to be codependent to get involved with a pwBPD, but I'd say you have to be codependent to actually STAY involved with one after the first few red flags pop up. Some here will disagree.

I think that if we want it more than our partner, if it's one-sided, its likely to be codependent.

I have this horrible urge to want to explain and talk about needs, actions, etc...   I don't know if it's co-dependency or if it's just my personality.  I can't just do it, I feel like I always need to explain why.

Some possible reasons are:

* That you are trying to get her to accept your needs and actions. To put her stamp of approval on it.

* Your need to justify and explain comes from some insecurity on if you should have these "rights" or not.

* You fear her reaction so you phrase them as requests instead of stating them as requirements.

Can you think of more?

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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2010, 11:09:07 AM »

Do you see yourself doing this?

I often catch myself in a fight/give-up cycle. I'm the fighter in my relationship. I'm the one who wants to rage and talk through the aftermath. I'm the one who is actively hurting (I'm sure he is too but he has numbed himself emotionally and dissociates a lot). So I walk on eggshells for a while because I get tired of fighting. Then all the little somethings will build and I'll blow up and confront everything and everyone feels bad so I start the process over.

I'm too strong to be co-dependent and too co-dependent to be strong.
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2010, 02:56:42 AM »

I'm guilty of this for sure, still do it I think.  I find it very hard though to distinguish between what is being kind and thoughtful.  I just bought her a needlecraft training course, so she can use the sewing machine  I bought her a few years back (which has gathered dust).  I need to drive her 300 miles return trip at the expense of my open uni course that I am now 3 weeks behind with reading and assignments.  to what extent do you draw the line being kind and thinking of yourself?  (she has now refused to go on the course as I asked her to make a small contribution to the fuel to get there and back). 

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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2010, 04:30:42 AM »

This is such a good topic - the searching for my needs to be met got me into such a lot of trouble and mess more of a mess than I was before I tried searching - desperate for love you know the kind that is pure love for my wellbeing, for me to have peace, to feel save, warm, secure, loved - not idolised or anything like that.  For me last yr I started searching in all the wrong places, not knowing what was wrong with me or where to get this emptyness filled from - church? all the different religions I looked into, I wanted to know about the bible about god, someone to help me... .the whole me?So I went on the internet and joined a chat room - pple to talk to I suppose what I wanted was like I have not got with this site but the chat room pple were not the kind that I wanted but I didn't know what I wanted.  Attention yes I got that, but for a price - men tricks time and time again into talking about sex, I wanted someone to listen to me, hear my voice, understand my pain, understand my life - friends said just leave if you're not happy - just leave? if it were so simple we would all have gone wouldn't we?  I got caught up in a virtual world still searching surely one of them wanted to look after me, I wanted to and still do want to scream out but what about me? how I feel? don't I count to anyone anywhere?  So I gratified - I am now ashamed, guilt ridden, the H found out about all of it - he tracked every conversation on the MSN but I didn't try to hide cos I didn't know or understand what I was involved with.  I gave my MOb number out to two men - surely they wanted to rescue me and take away the pain - no COS h FOUND OUT!  He forgave me he understood I was looking for HIM that he had neglected me - in future he would look after me - no - in future he has thorown it back at every opportunity so now I am worse off than before just that now my girls thik I had an affair or something cos He told them about it all!  How stupid have I been?  Just thought I would share my darker side with you... :'(
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2010, 07:34:43 AM »

Yep this is what it is all about, getting ourselves back. I really had a passion for life and after meeting my BPDw I began to loose it. I was doing everything wrong. I was not going to let go and fought her every step of the way. In the end I was frustrated, angry and too tired to do the things I loved. I figured out one thing that worked for me, I just decided to do what I loved to do and told her you can come or stay but I am going. She was so insecure that leaving the door open for her seemed to ease that insecurity. Sometimes she would come with me and I had to tell her not to be negitive and critical and ruin what I was doing. Now she knows the drill, and usually does not go with me to do my passions but I leave the door open. As far as intamacy I have not got that figured out but we are a lot closer now that the rages and stress have died down. Great topic!
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2010, 08:30:42 AM »

Here are some things to think about... .

Do you see yourself on that list?

Excerpt
Questionnaire To Identify Signs Of Co-dependency

This condition appears to run in different degrees, whereby the intensity of symptoms are on a spectrum of severity, as opposed to an all or nothing scale. Please note that only a qualified professional can make a diagnosis of co-dependency; not everyone experiencing these symptoms suffers from co-dependency.

1. Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?

2. Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?

3. Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?

4. Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?

5. Are the opinions of others more important than your own?

6. Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home?

7. Do you feel rejected when significant others spend time with friends?

8. Do you doubt your ability to be who you want to be?

9. Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others?

10. Have you ever felt inadequate?

11. Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?

12. Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts?

13. Do you feel humiliation when your child or spouse makes a mistake?

14. Do you think people in your life would go downhill without your constant efforts?

15. Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done?

16. Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority, such as the police or your boss?

17. Are you confused about who you are or where you are going with your life?

18. Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?

19. Do you have trouble asking for help?

20. Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them?



www.nmha.org/go/codependency

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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 08:45:48 AM »

This is also something to think about... .

Excerpt
WE TEACH OTHER PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US

In order for codependence to be part of any relationship, two things have to happen ~ the people-pleaser has to say yes a lot more often than no, and the other person has to not only accept this but also begin to expect it in the relationship. Once that dynamic is in place, it is difficult to break the cycle.

When you say yes consistently to another person, and when you accept any form of abuse as part of any of your relationships, you are essentially teaching the other people that it is all right for them to treat you that way. Although you might not be aware of it, you actually do have as much power and control as the other person does, because all of us can really only control ourselves.

It is only when you choose to give your power and control to another person that you begin to feel the sting of codependency, because the truth is that no one can disrespect you without your permission.


https://candaceplattor.com/free-articles/recovering-from-codependency

We do have choices... .
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2010, 01:15:21 PM »

OK, out of the list I can relate to #1, 4, 20. 4&20 I use to, #1 I still do if I know that a response will eculate my uBPDw. I do know that I gave up some of the things I loved because doing them made things worse for me. I don't do that anymore. Are all nons prone to be co-dependent? I never thought of myself as one until I began to read about it in BPD literature. On the other hand I figure that with all the consessions I have made I must be.
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2010, 05:04:32 PM »



My girlfriend is BPD.  She has taken DBT... she works hard on being a better person.  I have some co-dependency tendencies so I appreciate being able to help someone.   Be their "KNight In shinning armour" as it were.  She thinks of me as "the perfect man" more often then not and that feeds my ego so much even I am satisfied.  When I become Mr. Evil... my foot comes down and stuff hits the fan.  (My co-dependency shuts off)  Look in the dictionary under "Passive Agressive" if you want to see my picture.  But I use that passive time... the time of not talking to look at my own actions because I know I'm not perfect. 

Example:    She asks me a question... I don't like it and don't answer. She goes ballistic.  I don't respect her, she says.  I know she's over the edge now... it's part of her BPD... right?  Except, it was not nice of me to not answer her... sure she's over reacting as any BPD does... .but I need to and do own up to my own part in it.  I have 'issues' too... .she can't handle them.  None of us are perfect... I accept the fact that being with her means I... .I have to be a better person.  I cannot be aggressive, I cannot get angry, I cannot take out my hard day on her, I cannot mope around the house, I have to learn to talk in a non judgemental way.  I have to be a better man.  When I am... I am "the perfect man" and while I know in my heart that I am not perfect... it fills a need in me to be appreciated. 

What do the rest of you get from your relationship with your BPD?  Cause if you weren't getting something... .why are you still with them.  Sure they drive you mad... they are abusive... all that.  But what are you getting?  Is it the sex? The adoration that I admit I love?  The fact that someone needs you more then anyone else could who was not BPD?

I think we need to be honest with ourselves.  They fill a need in us.  Admit it to yourselves if no one else.  The secret, I think, is that we need to learn the same things they do.  That we have other needs that they can't fill either.  I know for a fact that I am in a relationship and that there are two people in that relationship that need to work on being a better person. 

Co-dependency is a mental illness as well.

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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2010, 06:36:10 AM »



This condition appears to run in different degrees, whereby the intensity of symptoms are on a spectrum of severity, as opposed to an all or nothing scale. Please note that only a qualified professional can make a diagnosis of co-dependency; not everyone experiencing these symptoms suffers from co-dependency.

1. Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?

Yes all the time - I try and warn our daughters about whether the mood is okay or not.

12. Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?

Yes - I always want to know if they think I am good at what I am doing cos I can't decide for myself!

13. Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?

My mum has had a drink problem for yrs and stuffered with mental health too.

14. Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?

Yes my H on both counts.

15. Are the opinions of others more important than your own?

Yes I feel I can't make the right ones myself.

16. Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home?

Difficulty Bullet: comment directed to __ (click to insert in post) work! Definitely.

17. Do you feel rejected when significant others spend time with friends?

Nope. I don't think so anyway.

18. Do you doubt your ability to be who you want to be?

I don't know who that is?

19. Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others?

Nope there is no point someone always gets hurt.

110. Have you ever felt inadequate?

When haven't I?

111. Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?

Yes.

112. Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts?

Yes.

113. Do you feel humiliation when your child or spouse makes a mistake?

Nope

114. Do you think people in your life would go downhill without your constant efforts?

Not sure... .

115. Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done?

Hell of a lot of the time - why can't i just get on sometimes!

116. Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority, such as the police or your boss?

Yes - problems with talking to bosses before - not working now though.

117. Are you confused about who you are or where you are going with your life?

Very.

118. Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?

I can't say no to anyone

119. Do you have trouble asking for help?

Yes pple will think I am a failure and cant' get anything right

120. Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them?

Yes then I can't cope and feel out of control and don't know how to solve it.
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2010, 04:14:38 PM »

Am I Codependent?

I still struggle with this question. My question is more "What's wrong with me and what do I need to change to NEVER go through anything like that again?" In the aftermath of my relationship with my xBPDgf, I went to several professionals trying to find out what's wrong with me. I thought I was going crazy. No axis I(mental illness) and no axis II(personality disorder) were the answers I got originally and I had a hard time believeing it. Then I said "I must be codependent!". The professionals disagreed again. So , what is wrong with me?

I approached a personal aquaintenence who works in a field not totally unrelated and his answer was two words... ."bad luck".
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« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2010, 10:54:39 AM »

Hi UFN, Can you suggest some strategies to combat codependency?  Thanks for bringing up this important topic.  Uke
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2010, 09:09:29 PM »

Acknowledging that you have a problem is a great place to start.

Finding the courage to let go of the outcome when it comes to others would be next.

While this sounds mean and harsh, the truth is that "we" need to feel in control too, so we meddle and we step in where we don't belong. We do this to avoid facing our own demons. We feel good by helping others so that we don't feel bad. We are the opposite (shadow) of someone who suffers from BPD... .

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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2010, 06:48:53 PM »

Some definitions that may help... .

Interdependence It is what everyone wants.  Interdependence is two whole people who are capable of giving, being vulnerable and connected.

Cohesion is a measure of supportive interaction (including warmth, time together, nurturance, physical intimacy, and consistency).

Enmeshment is a measure of psychological control (including coercive control, separation anxiety, possessiveness/jealousy, emotional reactivity, and projective mystification). In an enmeshed family everyone shares the other's life-system. One learns not to look within one's self for awareness of what one is about, but to the other members of the family. The husband who is happy when his wife is happy and sad when wife is depressed is an example of enmeshment. This is also referred to as co-dependence.

Disengagement is the extreme opposite of both cohesion and enmeshment.

We want Interdependence.  We generally counterbalance the enmeshment with some level of disengagement - hopefully not too much because it also affects the cohesion. 

If we are in an enmeshing environment, it's hard not to become enmeshed.  It's not likely we will change the others, so ultimately it comes down to how we process the enmeshing environment as to how it affects our quality of life. 

The starting is point is to realize that this is a problem that we face and the goal we want to achieve.
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2010, 02:34:29 PM »

The way I see it, in an enmeshed relationship the two parties overlap, psychologically. It is a particularly problematic situation as the BPD sufferer struggles to deal with the own emotions and we become involved with it.  Our feelings are the pwBPD's feelings and the pwBPD's feelings must be ours. And we become a means for the BPD sufferer to visualize their own feelings and self validate. When we do not play along and when our feelings are out of sync with the BPD sufferer's feelings (because we are after all independent) we are likely to invalidate the pwBPD with bad short and long term consequences.



We want Interdependence.  We generally counterbalance the enmeshment with some level of disengagement - hopefully not too much because it also affects the cohesion.  

If we are in an enmeshing environment, it's hard not to become enmeshed.  It's not likely we will change the others, so ultimately it comes down to how we process the enmeshing environment as to how it affects our quality of life.  

The starting is point is to realize that this is a problem that we face and the goal we want to achieve.

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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2010, 03:21:09 PM »

I think it's easy to get enmeshed in a BPD relationship and, if you're not careful, you can lose all sense of self, which is no fun, believe me.  One way to look at it is that those with BPD tend to be "takers" in an emotional sense, always trying to fill the inner void with something.  It could be their relationship with the Non, alcohol, drugs, self-harm, or usually some combination of the above.  On the other hand, we Nons tend to be "givers" in the sense of trying to help others, to the point of our own detriment.  When you put together a "taker" and a "giver," it's like lining up the opposite polls of a magnet: the pull is strong and there is a high probability of enmeshment, in my view.

As I see it, the solution, in part, comes from boundaries and detachment, and getting back in touch with one's own independent thoughts and feelings, which sounds easy but takes a lot of effort, particularly because the pwBPD will strongly resist any attempt to pull back, due to their own fear of abandonment, and there is likely to be a heavy dose of FOG applied in response to the Non's attempt to become un-enmeshed.

At least that's my perspective on this important issue.  
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2010, 04:56:30 PM »

Great topic!

The hardest part with enmeshment for me is that, by the very nature of our personalities and conditions, both me and my SO are constantly told by our brains that that is the way to be, the way that brings happiness.

My SO feels most comfortable when I have no friends, no family, no outside interests and basically she is in 'control'. As a consequence of me complying with her demands, I lose friends, I lose family and I become ever more reliant on the only relationship I'm left with... .I become co-dependent and an extension of my SO.

Then, of course, at the slightest hint of dysregulation... .BOOM. It explodes, and both our lives are thrown into chaos.

So how do we get out?

For me, it continues to be a slow process and requires me to be constantly aware of my own actions. I often have to step outside of myself and look at my situation objectively, like me and my SO were characters in a play, and inspect the power-plays in the relationship to see whether they're healthy or not.

Since being in DBT, my SO is showing some signs of introspection as well and is often encouraging of me when I say I am going to go out for sport or something social. I know her brain is yelling at her to go the other way and 'yank the chain', but mostly she has been better.

Still, the biggest fear/issue/problem to overcoming enmeshment is fear of being alone. Being in a relationship with a pwBPD can be demoralizing for long periods of time. Unchecked, your confidence gets shot and your ability to value yourself as an individual disappears. So importantly for me, unenmeshment requires me to push my personal boundaries. Take up new sports, put myself in social situations, and try incredibly hard to enjoy them for what they are. Don't spend the whole time worrying about the repercussions of my own enjoyment.

It's a difficult road, and it's often so ingrained (having been 5 years in an undiagnosed BPD relationship - I was [and am] pretty mixed up) that it feels like breaking an addiction. You've got to ignore your instincts and be prepared to feel uncomfortable. It does get easier... .but as soon as I stop the constant assessment of myself, I begin to slip back. For me, it requires constant attention... .and probably will for some time to come.
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« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2010, 07:27:01 PM »

I don't think I've had enmeshment to the point where I never did my own thing.  My approach was one of negotiation.  For example, when we lived in another state and visited people at home, I knew I needed to get back by a certain time AND do something she liked for her to feel like I wasn't abandoning her... .even if all I was doing was catching up with friends and family every now and again.

How I managed to do it was to do it.  I had to set a boundary that I needed my me time, and if she was going to get upset, oh well, that's her problem.  Now does that approach stop the rages?  Of course not.  If I had a dime for every time I was accused of abandoning her, I'd be a wealthy man.   But I needed to do it to keep my sanity.

On a slightly different note, the biggest part of my wife's enmeshment was her going through my emails and listening to my phone calls.  If I didn't constantly praise her name when I mentioned her during my conversations and mentioned anything ever so slightly negative, I wouldn't hear the end of it.  I had to enforce a boundary that my communications are MY business, and I have the right to talk about who I want about what I want.  I've also learned to not have conversations on the phone around her to keep my own space.
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2010, 09:36:30 AM »

This has been a very big issue for me. I ended up in therapy because of it, where my T explained to me just how enmeshed we were, and what I needed to do to detach myself before I ended up in an emergency room (it was manifesting to real suffocation feelings and such). Not surprisingly, my wife does not like it at all. What I described as enmeshed, she described as "love", and so if I became less enmeshed, I must not love her. It's an all or nothing game. I've now few friends, few places where I feel I can truly be myself, and I still struggle with the "how will she react" syndrome, although for the most part now I've moved past that. But it took me several years even to get this far. And I still feel guilty for doing my own thing, and she endorses my feeling guilty. So I do my own thing infrequently. She has few friends, so I am supposed to be her one and only companion. I'm the one "who's never supposed to leave, the one and only person I can count on" were her words. It's a weighty load to bear.

The problem is that, as it takes two to become enmeshed, to truly become un-enmeshed it takes two as well. This way, I feel sort of as though I'm pulling a rope in a tug of war. A gain, a gain, a loss of holding, then tug again. I'm sort of settling in to a depression about the whole state of affairs as well, which isn't helping me - it just gets to feeling hopeless at times, and you get tired of trying to manage something that shouldn't even need management.

HOH
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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2010, 09:06:11 PM »

EXCELLENT TOPIC--that has been at the forefront of my mind, lately.

Enmeshment so easy to fall into, so hard to escape.  

I met my BPDh as a teenager and still in uBPDmomsters clutches. I did not know any better. As I grew up, and he did not, I tried to unmesh myself and suffered the consequences (mental, emotional, physical abuse) that I thought were normal. I thought I was crazy, but knew in my heart deep down that I was not.  At some points, I got so entangled in FOG and was/am so codependent, that unmeshing became my problem--I didn't want it.

Now as I am further disentangling my meshment, am experiencing extinction bursts and threats of divorce--which I do not want (yet) and am struggling too overcome these threats and let the chips fall where they may.

We have to maintain our individual identities--do things on our own and for ourselves in order to grow as a couple, but BPD's just don't see this. Nor do they see the harm enmeshment causes--except when they are feeling suffocated .

I am working on me, my worth as an individual and my feelings.  Because h doesn't like what I do, doesn't make me a bad person.  Because he paints me black, doesn't mean the world sees me as black.  Because he sees me as untrustworthy does not make me a liar and a cheat.  I will overcome the little belief that is left--that I am somehow not good enough or undeserving. I am good and I deserve better than being loved part time or on "terms" or "conditions" that are constantly changing. As I change and grow, I won't let him try to force me back into codependency.

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« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2010, 01:24:45 PM »

I am still trying to figure this out.  I never felt I lost myself in my marriage.  I have always been an independant sort of person, very intropsective. I have always had good friends, activities, hobbies, and strong convictions.  I suspect I have catered too much to my DH under the guise of being his "helpmate".  I felt like a single mom and raised/homeschooled our daughters myself.  While he has always struggled with being productive, early years of counseling did not bring an improvement on follow up skills.  Eventually it just became easier to do everything myself.  Now I don't know where to draw the line between what he is capable of(and insisiting that he figure it out)and what he just isn't up to.  I see myself caving(out of FOG) too frequently to his subtle pressure to spend all my time with him.  What I am working on now is not letting is current state of dysregulation bring me down.  His moodiness does not have to equal my moodiness.  I am a separate person with a good, fulfilling life out side of my marriage.  What he says about me does not need to be internalized and I don't need to feel the sting of it for days on end.  Still so much to learn... .
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« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2010, 01:46:04 PM »

I'm definitely struggling with being too deeply enmeshed wth UBPW.

Interestingly, I met up with an old buddy of mine who I haven't seen in about 10 months (I was always coming up with excuses for not getting together sooner - all because I was fearful of W's reaction, and ultimately, not feeling worthy enough to really take care of myself by seeking my old friends).  Anyway, we hung out, had a beer or two, shared war stories about our wives, and I walked away feeling great about myself.  And surprisingly, I felt more enthusiastic and less dreadful of going home than I've felt in a long time.  The simple act of just hanging out and talking with an old friend helped to validate and normalize my feelings, and gain much needed perspective.  The FOG lifted!

But what to do when your SO also struggles with hypochondria?  My wife's symptoms are very real to her, I can appreciate the strong mind-body link such that physiological symptoms can really manifest themselves.  How to stay sympathetic when she feels sick although all indications are that her hypersensitivity, anxiety, and momentary panic are the real culprits?  We've spoken in the past about her getting back on her anti-anxiety meds, but this typically triggers dysregulation - her weak and fragile ego can't handle the idea that some of her pains are psychosomatic.  I'm really struggling with this.
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« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2010, 06:32:05 PM »

My relationship with my BPDh started with a lot of closeness and time together which naturally comes with that stage of a relationship. Little did I know that this is what my h would expect for the rest of our lives.  Soon after we were married I was in T for personal issues-I grew TONS and got healthy.  H did not.  Has never done T for any length of time until recent DBT.  So I began trying to have my own life with healthy separation and togetherness.  For many years something didn't feel right, h was too smothering, but I couldn't identify it beyond that.  Finally, about 3 years ago, I couldn't take it anymore and told h he had to get help (REAL help) or get out.  That's when we found out about his ADHD and BPD issues.  Since that time I've learned tons from my own T and lessons on this site.  I will never forget the day it hit me that we were WAY enmeshed.  My h has no sense of privacy or personal space-if he wants to occupy a space he will.  He constantly barges into the bathroom (a super tiny space enough for 1 person) when I'm in there and just completely takes over, moves me out of the way... .  It suddenly hit me that I let this happen and I don't need to.  I started setting boundaries, taking back my space, my words, my body, my ideas, my feelings.  It was pretty ugly on his end, but I am once again myself, I am healthy and feel TONS better than I have in years!
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« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2010, 01:06:19 PM »

Skip, The definition of enmeshment you posted reminds me of a saying that one friend once shared with me -- "Happy wife, happy life" -- which to me is codependence in a nutshell and not something to which I subscribe.

IQ2 & Ikwit, I salute both of you on your efforts to avoid enmeshment.  IQ, connecting with an old friend is a great way to gain perspective again, and yes, my uBPDw is a hypochondriac, too.  She is bedridden again today and just called, asking me to bring her some soup, which I declined to do, in a nice way (I'm not that codependent anymore!  Years ago I might have jumped at her request).

IKwit, You said it well:

It suddenly hit me that I let this happen and I don't need to.  I started setting boundaries, taking back my space, my words, my body, my ideas, my feelings.

It feels like I am on a similar journey to reclaim friends, feelings, thoughts, and interests that I lost for a while there in the throes of a BPD marriage.

Thanks to all, Uke
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« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2010, 02:25:00 PM »

Skip, The definition of enmeshment you posted reminds me of a saying that one friend once shared with me -- "Happy wife, happy life" -- which to me is codependence in a nutshell and not something to which I subscribe.

IQ2 & Ikwit, I salute both of you on your efforts to avoid enmeshment.  IQ, connecting with an old friend is a great way to gain perspective again, and yes, my uBPDw is a hypochondriac, too.  She is bedridden again today and just called, asking me to bring her some soup, which I declined to do, in a nice way (I'm not that codependent anymore!  Years ago I might have jumped at her request).

IKwit, You said it well:

It suddenly hit me that I let this happen and I don't need to.  I started setting boundaries, taking back my space, my words, my body, my ideas, my feelings.

It feels like I am on a similar journey to reclaim friends, feelings, thoughts, and interests that I lost for a while there in the throes of a BPD marriage.

Thanks to all, Uke

Thankfully, I never hit that point where I completely disconnected, and there's one thing I had to thank for that... .haircuts.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Allow me to explain.  At one point a couple years ago, my wife and I lived in a different state from where I grew up in, but within easy distance for a day trip.  Fortunately for me, the town where we lived didn't have a barbershop with expertise in cutting hair for Black people.  As a result, I used her desire to keep my hair looking nice as an excuse to go back to where I was from, get my hair cut, and since I made such a loong trip go see other people or do other things while I was out. 

The take-home in this example is that you need to have your one thing to hang you hat on to do on your own, from which you can branch out and do other things... .without your pwBPD.
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« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2010, 03:01:38 PM »

This is also a big issue in my relationship.  My uBPD live-in bf wants me to "just cut back" on doing things outside the relationship.  Really, he wants me 100% to himself ... .he's not fooling me Smiling (click to insert in post) 

On a recent Saturday morning, his D16 needed a ride an hour away and he wanted me to go (1 hour there, stay 1 hour and 1 hour back).  When I suggested that I could get something else done during that time that would take me about 2 hours and then we would have the whole rest of the weekend together, HE ACTUALLY WENT FOR IT! 

I did what I had to do, then went for a haircut and then stopped at another store.  It was unbelievable how free I felt having 3 hours to myself. It was also unbelievable how much it upset me that I was that happy to have 3 hours to myself.  It really brought into focus how much I need some time to myself.  I actually felt "normal" during that time ... .not feeling like I had to rush home so I wasn't a minute late, not having him breathing down my neck so to speak. 

Note to self - I need to set a boundary for this too! Smiling (click to insert in post) Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2010, 03:17:01 PM »

What does it feel like to be "interdependent"?  I'm not suggesting that this is an easily acheivible state with a partner with BPD - but as the emotional leaders its important that we know what the ideal is.

   1.  Interdependent couples accept the need for them to change and take ownership of their own issues. They do not blame their partner or others for their problems, nor do they assume the role of a victim. Interdependent couples are able to realize what their issues are on an individual level, and are dedicated and motivated to working through their issues, regardless of what their partner has chosen to do. They recognize when their issues are being brought into the marriage, and are dedicated to their own growth and recovery.

   2. Interdependent couples don’t give up their own identity. They recognize the importance of having and maintaining their own identity outside of the marriage, in addition to their identity as a couple. I view interdependent relationships as having a “me”, “you”, and “us”. I like to think of interdependence like the concept of fire. In order for fire to burn, it must have the right amount of oxygen to survive. Without oxygen, the fire will burn out. Much the same in relationships, when one person “becomes” the other person, the relationship does not get the oxygen it needs in order to survive and the fire will go out. We call this term enmeshment. On the same note, with too much oxygen, the fire will burn out of control. In relationships, when people become disconnected emotionally and there is too much distance between them, we term this “cut-off”. Interdependent couples are able to celebrate their individuality and uniqueness, without “becoming” the other person, or taking on the other person’s feelings. They feel confident to express their own opinions, without sacrificing their own sense of self for another person. At the same time, however, they are able to compromise in the relationship and are sensitive to the other person’s needs without compromising their own values and self-worth.

   3. Interdependent couples are able to confront and criticize their partner in a non-judgmental, healthy, and non-blaming manner, without rage and without shaming. They also step up to the plate in accepting their own role in the marital conflict, accepting constructive criticism without becoming defensive or reactive. Because they are able to accept their own flaws, their own need for change, and work on their own issues, interdependent couples are fully accepting of each other, including their flaws! It is much like each partner is holding up a mirror to the other. This mirror allows the partner to see both strengths and weaknesses, which can be seen as an opportunity for growth as opposed to a passive-aggressive way of hurting the other person.

   4. Interdependent couples are not enablers, and set good boundaries and limits in their relationships. They do not enable nor do they invite hurtful, dysfunctional, and unhealthy behavior to continue in their partner or relationship. Through the continual process of recognizing and working on their own issues, as well as having a voice in their relationships, they share mutual respect with each other. When they do not feel respected, they are able to voice their feelings in a genuine manner. By setting good boundaries and limits with others, interdependent individuals hold others accountable for their actions. They do not assume responsibility for, rescue, or make excuses for the other person’s unhealthy behavior. As they continue to work on their own growth and recovery, they are confident in letting go of unhealthy and destructive behaviors in their life.

   5. Interdependent couples fight! They fight in a healthy way and do not fear or avoid healthy conflict and uncomfortable feelings in their marriage. Because they are able to express their genuine feelings when they occur, they are able to show anger in a healthy way, without rage. When they do show their feelings in an unhealthy manner, they are able to recognize their relapse, realize what deeper issues have been touched, and forgive themselves without spiraling in shame. They are also able to forgive their partners for their mistakes. Interdependent couples recognize that to deny feelings is to deny who we truly are. They accept that the full range of emotion is to be real. They know that without expressing genuine emotion, the feelings will run their lives and take over in the form of addictions or other counterproductive and unhealthy behaviors.

   6. Interdependent couples have healthy communication, with deep connection and intimate sharing. Because they are consistently working on healing their emotional wounds and confronting their emotional pain, they feel free to communicate and show others their real self. Commitment to working on their relationship is a priority. They commit to therapy and individual growth in their recovery. They trust the process of healing, trusting their ability to feel their pain, work through their issues, and follow through with their individual and marriage counseling appointments.

~ Joleen Watson MS Ed, NCC


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