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Author Topic: 1.23 | Dealing with Enmeshment and Codependence  (Read 32710 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
<br/>:)o 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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« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2010, 03:50:20 PM »

I'm not going to quote Skip's whole post, but that's an amazing piece of writing.  I've already read it 3 times! I printed it out and I'm going to carry it in my purse to read and re-read and just maybe, if the time is ever right, show it to my bf. Thanks for posting that Skip  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #31 on: September 25, 2010, 07:51:11 AM »

Thanks for this amazing thread...

I needed this right now as Im struggling to get out of the FOG.

Can we not have this as a pdf file on the site for everyone to read?
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« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2010, 08:28:07 AM »

hotapollo,

You immediately hit on one interesting aspect - FOG.

Enmeshment works both ways. BPD over-reacts to our stuff. But also we over-react to their stuff (and that side is wild and weird). And this has quite some disorienting effect.
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« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2010, 01:55:49 PM »

Great Topic and posts.  Really needed this today as I've been dealing with a lot of emeshment issues the past couple of months both with FOO and with a number of situations in the work place.

How we get there?  For me, the original pattern was established in my FOO - uBPDm; absent uPDf combined with the best and worst of a small town, strict religious upbringing.  It wasn't "ok" to have thoughts and feelings that didn't agree with what you were "supposed" to think and feel; anger was not ok unless you were the authority figure.  Questioning things or pushing back was "rebellion" and selfishness.  You should be nice to people, not hurt their feelings and do for others first.  Not too much room in that world to develop good boundaries or an independent sense of self.

Also not surprising that I have ended up in a number of personal and professional relationships where I didn't recognize warning signs of exploitation or unhealthy emeshment until some crisis event. . . or if I sensed something wasn't quite right, or felt instrusive, I didn't have any self-protection "how-to's" or practice.  Still trying to learn that.

I think that lack of validation in the past has made me very vulnerable to the "you're wonderful, you are so understanding, etc." hook with manipulative people. Learning to not automatically respond to requests, hints, neediness without FOGging myself is huge.  Setting limits and not taking on other people's frustration when they don't get what they want or are used to is also important for me.  Not sure how to say this, but I need to get a better balance around "entitlement" - I need to expect more for myself and respond less to others sense of entitlement.  I'm amazed and caught off-guard by the things some people feel free to do and expect, when I would never take those kinds of liberties.  Some place in the middle is healthy interdependence.

I'm dealing with several situations at work right now where I'm needing to pull back because in the name of teamwork, collegiality, etc. things have gotten very emeshed and unhealthy.   It's uncomfortable and awkward and very difficult to redraw boundary lines - especially when you realize that some of the players were using those "admirable words and concepts" as a cover for exploitive BPD and PD supply games.  How people respond when you say "no" is becoming my early warning sign for "Emeshment Danger Ahead".
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« Reply #34 on: April 12, 2011, 11:39:49 PM »

It can be difficult to step back and away when someone we care about is hurting. The need to step in and make it all better is a sign of our own issues though.

Excerpt
Signs of a Codependent Relationship

Unhealthy dependencies and repressed anger could be just a few red flags that you are codependent.

(continued)

Red Flags

Red Flag No. 1: Do you become obsessed with fixing and rescuing needy people?

"Codependents are more oriented to other people's reality than their own," Cannon explains. "They can tell you what everybody else is feeling or needing but have no earthly idea what they want or need. They are the finder, fixer, and Mother Theresa. That is how they see themselves, and where they get their ego fix."

A person's motive for "doing good" indicates whether they are codependent or not, says Cannon. "Are you literally giving for fun and for free -- or to get some kind of payoff?" she asks. "If you're codependent, you're trying to be someone's savior to make yourself feel good. You give to them with an expectation of return. After all I've done for you, I get to tell you what to do with your life."

Red Flag No. 2: Are you easily absorbed in the pain and problems of other people?

"Codependent people can be obsessed with the pain and suffering of the other person," Cannon tells WebMD. "That allows them to sacrifice themselves. It's really learned self-defeating behavior."

It's why women in helping professions burn out, McKee adds. "They get super absorbed in the pain of others. They have trouble setting limits in taking in that pain. Some empathy is wonderful. But when you can feel the pain more than the person in pain feels it, it hurts you."

Red Flag No. 3: Are you trying to control someone? Is someone trying to control you?

Neediness is a hallmark of a codependent relationship. One person's happiness depends on having the other person right there -- right now. Not letting you hang out with friends, calling frequently to check up on you, having to be with you all the time -- these are controlling behaviors, says McKee.

"If you get close to someone else, it's very threatening to them," he explains. "They're calling you all the time when you're away: Do you still love me? Are you still there for me? It's a very unhappy way to live."

Red Flag No. 4: Do you do more than your share -- all of the time?

What's the difference between a hard worker and a workaholic? "Motive and consequences," says Cannon. "In those gray areas of addiction -- workaholism, housecleaning, perfectionism, religion, computer games -- those are the telling signs. Is your family suffering because of what you're doing? Are you suffering?"

"Many codependent people were the favorite child because they did more -- took care of the sick parent, got straight A's, cleaned the house," McKee adds. "Now, they feel like a martyr, victimized by doing it all. The martyr has a sense of gratification, but it's not a soul-satisfying gratification."


Red Flag No. 5: Are you always seeking approval and recognition?

Low-self esteem is a mark of codependence. "Shame is the core of the whole thing. Neglected children view themselves as dumb, stupid, worthless, and defective," says Cannon. "It's ingrained into the fabric of their character. It's because the message they got as children was -- I don't matter. I'm not important. I'm not worth taking care of."

As an adult, a codependent person judges themselves harshly, says McKee. "When they get recognition, they are embarrassed. They have difficulty asking others to meet their needs. They don't believe they are worthwhile or lovable."

There is no strong sense of self, McKee tells WebMD. "Ask them who they are, and men will give their job title. Women will say I'm a wife, partner, daughter, mother -- they define themselves in terms of relationships. A healthy person would say, 'I'm an independent and adventurous person.' There's nothing wrong with being proud of your job or relationships, but a healthy person should be able to identify characteristics beyond that."

Red Flag No. 6: Would you do anything to hold on to a relationship? Do you fear being abandoned?

During childhood, the codependent person felt abandoned by a parent, so they learn to fear it, McKee explains. "They are not really good at bonding. They don't know how to bond in a constructive way that has a healthy dependency between two independent people. They don't feel able to express their own feelings, express a difference in opinion, so bonding never quite works."

People who put up with abuse "are usually bright, attractive, intelligent women," he tells WebMD. "The abuse ranges from emotional to sexual and physical abuse. Why do they go back? Because they feel so terrible about themselves... that nobody else would want them."

www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/signs-of-a-codependent-relationship?page=4
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« Reply #35 on: June 29, 2011, 03:19:07 PM »

Hi UFN, Can you suggest some strategies to combat codependency?  Thanks for bringing up this important topic.  Uke

I am doing Melody Beatties Co Dependent No More workbook. It is a 12 step program. I am loving it. I did not consider myself codependent but knew there was some issue with me in order for me to be with this person. To continue in a dysfunctional relationship, there had to be some issues of my own. And there are. I feel as if I am returning to ME. The writing exercises in the workbook really make you delve into yourself and your past and just everything. It is meant to take quite some time (many months or longer) to complete the book. I highly recommend it.
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« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2011, 09:39:33 AM »

I recently read this on detachment and it definitely resonated for me in terms of family relationships:

Excerpt
What is detachment?

Detachment is the:

* Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves.

* Holding back from the need to rescue, save or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional or irrational.

* Giving another person "the space" to be herself.

* Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people.

* Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place or thing.

* Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life.

* Establishing of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence.

* Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering.

* Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing or controlling.

* Placing of all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life.

* Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point.

* Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them.

* Ability to allow people to be who they "really are" rather than who you "want them to be."

* Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.

From: www.livestrong.com/article/14712-developing-detachment/#ixzz1Qlo8ii2d

One of the issues I see with adult children as well as siblings of pwBPD is that since we've been in these relationships all or most of our lives, we have to untangle our identities from that of the pwBPD. We're so busy coping with the drama or the after effects of the drama of these relationships that we don't always have the energy to discover who we actually are. Detachment is a way to gain a foothold on yourself.

Might be worth going down the list of elements of detachment and see what hits you (if anything).

B&W

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« Reply #37 on: June 30, 2011, 12:38:08 PM »

uBPD bf NEEDS the enmeshment. He is tolerating, but not happy about me pulling out of it. It is so hard to do. It is not 100%, maybe only 50%, but it is freeing and I feel so much better. I had to realize that getting out of the enmeshment and getting better is my stuff. I cant control him and his stuff. It is his.
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« Reply #38 on: June 30, 2011, 02:20:46 PM »

useful quote for enmeshment fighting:

"Love without honesty is sentimentality and honesty without love is brutality."

Enmeshment provides no room for true love that encompasses honesty.
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« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2011, 03:31:46 AM »

I have been working on my r/s with my wife for sometime and most of the members here have been aware of what I am going through...

things have been really good for us after I realised that it was AS MUCH MY FAULT as it was her in this relationship being dsyfunctional.

The biggest hurdle that we think we have overcome is transparency of feelings. I have realised that she has a problem of her emotions overwhelming her and then her behaviour results as an action of the overwhelming emotions...I see her behaviour and get emotionally hurt...which in turns makes my behaviour go bad. Since we both are sensitive...we un intentionally both hurt each other and damage the r/s which a period of time takes its toll on the bonds...

We have taken baby steps to express our emotions to each other and that helps each other understand us better as well as signals when the other person is feeling vulnarable. however I still have not been able to get over my emotional enmenshment with her as a person.

When she dsyregulates I do not let that affect me to a large extent, neither do I get too worked up with her crazyness which helps my sanity. But at the same time I do run to her when I feel emotionally vulnerable and I need to express my feelings to her and vice versa...we have landed up being our own mutual shrinks!

Im not sure if this is the start of something bad..but so far is suits me and us well!
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« Reply #40 on: July 04, 2011, 10:54:24 AM »

B&W, I really like that list of definitions of detachment!  It's incredibly helpful.  I think I should print it out and have it by my computer.  They are all things I struggle with, and need to work on.  Today I'm especially struggling with the second to last, "ability to allow people to be who they really are and not who you want them to be."  Since my mom, the one who really was a drain on my life-energies, is out of my life, what I struggle with the most is people who remind me of her by recreating dynamics in our relationship.  There's a person in my life who I feel drawn to even though I don't really like them, and I crave their approval, which they are very reluctant to grant.  It's all very reminiscent of my relationship with my mom, and so today I'm struggling to separate out my own anxieties about whether I'm really worthy of love from this person and their own personality, which happens to trigger me.  It's really hard. 
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« Reply #41 on: August 09, 2011, 11:04:00 PM »

Skip I wanted to respond just to thank you, I have been trying to talk to my son about healthy relationships.  I had been looking for information to refer too (not sure about my judgement) to talk about what a healthy relationship entailed but could not pull up what I was looking for.  I am not sure what I click on but this post came up.  Your post on interdependency was the term I was trying to pull up from the depths of my memory.  The dynamics of an interdependent relationship made more sense than any thing I read in my past about health relationships.  There was actually a book that gave the difference between a dependent relationship versus a interdependent relationship...but as the term it seems to be buried in the depths of my mind.

Also to validate those...who didn't get a bunch of flags in the beginning...I think it fits with anyone who has unknown... underlying issues..

Excerpt
Most people don’t act co-dependently when things are GOOD! (When life and others are supplying their needs). Most people act CODEPENDENTLY when the going gets tough! (When life and others aren’t supplying their needs).

We can all blame life and situations for throwing us into turmoil – but the truth is these challenging times are only EXPOSING the lack of self-resources and self-belief we had on-line in the first place. If ‘other people bring you down’ – your state of ‘down’ was lying just under the surface before the event occurred!

THEREFORE – the number ONE priority is to stop being just a ‘fair weather person’ and know that you can ‘hold it together in a storm’. These stormy times are inevitable (they are a part of life) and through these times we gain enormous confidence and resources to become self-empowered. These times are a gift. The irony is the more we deal with them, the fewer storms come.

www.melanietoniaevans.com/articles/codependence-independence.htm



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« Reply #42 on: October 07, 2012, 07:35:28 PM »

This is an amazing thread. I read it three times and kept saying "yup...yup...yup."

I'd never experienced enmeshment before. It took me a long while before I understood it. During my time with dxBPDgf, I felt like I was losing who I was. I'd even had friends comment to that effect. I finally understood it as one of the subtle and cancerous forces that really making me unhappy. I'd always been independent and self sufficient.  With dxBPDgf I felt smothered, like a lid on a pot. I couldn't go to work without my phone exploding with texts; there were always subtle things to get my attention. I had a hard time focusing independently on the things I wanted to do, because I was always being pulled in the direction that dxBPDgf wanted me to go in.

DxBPDgf would say to me, 'I don't know where you stop and I start.' At the time I thought it was the wierdest statement I'd ever heard. Once I understood enmeshment, I had a lightbulb moment.  She WANTED that overlap that intermixing. She had created that in her children to where that was the norm and expectation. Her children, her son especially, was having a bad time functioning in relationships that weren't enmeshed (school, peers etc.). He was very angry when people wouldn't fall into this relationship structure. Boundaries? Oh my, that was a fast way to get his wrath.

In subsequent introspecting, that was one of the subtle battlegrounds - independence vs enmeshment. I kept pushing towards healthy independence by both parties - dxBPDgf was pushing for enmeshment. It fueled many a fight.

Point #6 is important, because deep connection and intimate sharing was never achieved. There was the initial pull towards one another (in the idealization and mirroring phase which I fell for). However, when the transition started out of that to a more deeper connection - nothing was there. It was like being in a funhouse full of mirrors - distorted images, strange things going on etc. Alas, that was the disorder.  :)xBPDgf was trying, but the underbelly of the disorder was coming out because she was letting her guard down.  I knew that I wanted that mature love of depth and of connection - I knew something was off 3 or so months in. I stayed because I wanted to try.  Try I did, and learn a lesson I did. A disordered person whom you are now the trigger for the likelyhood of them improving is slim because they turn it on you. It became a cycle. Once the the walls came down of all the lies and the twists of the truth as well, I had to go.

What I had wasn't even in the same galaxy as Point #6.

Thanks for posting this Skip! A little introspection and further understanding on Sunday is a good thing!

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

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« Reply #43 on: August 29, 2013, 10:43:27 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.

A friend of mine recently threw out that phrase (happy wife, happy life) then she realized what she had said.  My immediate reaction was "well, I'm screwed then".   Smiling (click to insert in post)

Another phrase that might be more accurate - "If Momma bear ain't happy then nobody is happy".  That's my home.   
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« Reply #44 on: August 30, 2013, 03:54:00 AM »

Really interesting workshop.  I resonate with the enmeshment with pwBPD.  In my efforts to "save" him, I would take on feelings that weren't mine to deal with, so much so that I felt physically ill.  I've always been "spongy" but I had never experienced something like that before.  And pwBPD wanted me to help him with his trauma, wanted me to process some of his stuff, because it was too much for him.  Very unhealthy boundaries (if any) on my part.

Where did it come from?  Well, my first thoughts go to my relationship with my mother.  She was the center of our family, and I remember feeling physical pangs of guilt and anxiety sometimes when I went out with my boyfriend as a teenager, leaving her with my dad.  I didn't want her to feel lonely (Dad was very emotionally absent) or hurt.  It was my job to make her happy, and I have to say that I'm still working on that in T to this day.  Although I've lived a very independent life, emotionally I think I am still somewhat enmeshed with her, if that makes sense.

Why?  I don't know if I have an answer.  I think I need her love and support, so I make sure that I'm the perfect daughter in order to keep it.  Of course, that's mixed in with genuinely caring and liking to be close to her - we are like friends who enjoy the same things.  Lately, I have been learning that her happiness is her job, and always has been.  That sounds preposterous to write, but I really had it ingrained in me that it was my job.  

That brings me to my vulnerability in relationships, where I think that my behavior has so much power over another - geez     Ego check.  

I can't love someone to health and happiness.  My love can support them to be their best and healthiest self.  Taking care of my own emotional needs is a big enough job, and I still have lots to learn.

Thanks for the great topic.  
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« Reply #45 on: September 03, 2013, 03:04:25 PM »

I'm so glad I read this thread again.  Very helpful and useful information for my situation.

Last night, when discussing our r/s issues, I tried to explain again that I need some time for myself - to see friends, go shopping, etc. - some "girl time".  Of course, he's totally against any time or focus on anything but "us", for me at least.  After explaining to him what I need to continue in this r/s, he turns right around to me and says "we need to re-dedicate ourselves to each other, to shut everyone out and just spend time together".  HUH? Not five minutes earlier I said that I need just the opposite to continue. 

His abandonment issues are something that feel impossible to overcome, and his quest for enmeshment is killing me. 
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« Reply #46 on: September 07, 2013, 09:00:47 AM »

Hi toomanyeggshells,

I'm so glad I read this thread again.  Very helpful and useful information for my situation.

Last night, when discussing our r/s issues, I tried to explain again that I need some time for myself - to see friends, go shopping, etc. - some "girl time".  Of course, he's totally against any time or focus on anything but "us", for me at least.  After explaining to him what I need to continue in this r/s, he turns right around to me and says "we need to re-dedicate ourselves to each other, to shut everyone out and just spend time together".  HUH? Not five minutes earlier I said that I need just the opposite to continue. 

His abandonment issues are something that feel impossible to overcome, and his quest for enmeshment is killing me. 

sounds like you are making progress expressing your needs and relationship issues Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

You won't see joy on the other side when you explain that you need more time on your own. Of course abandonment kicks in and even more balanced persons in a close relationship will at least take notice and might be slightly upset. A more rational person may grudgingly say: ":)on't like this idea at all but if you insist let's give it a try.". Both establishing and recognizing new boundaries is hard emotional work for all sides.

What matters is whether you actually take action and start spending time separately. If you do abandonment will ramp-up for a while during an extinction burst. The path of standing up for yourself of course carries some risk for the relationship. If you don't he has learned that it is enough to express his displeasure to control you. The path of appeasement of course also carries some risk for the relationship.

In what sort of relationship do you want to live in 5 years?
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« Reply #47 on: September 09, 2013, 09:38:10 AM »

sounds like you are making progress expressing your needs and relationship issues

Not really     When I try to talk during calm moments, it leads to him raging and not letting me speak, which just leads to me walking out of the room or house.  Very rarely do I get to speak my mind. 

The path of standing up for yourself of course carries some risk for the relationship. If you don't he has learned that it is enough to express his displeasure to control you.

I reinforced this enmeshment and his "control" over me this weekend when I wanted to spend some time with a girl friend but didn't call her or even mention it to uBPDbf knowing that when I did, he would rage.  I didn't stand up for myself and make plans that a person in a "normal" r/s would do without much thought.  I need to work on that immediately because I'm in worse shape than I even realized.

Is there a specific way to begin to change this?

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« Reply #48 on: September 10, 2013, 04:13:23 AM »

Hon; Please read the detachment guide posted above."Very rarely do I get to speak my mind." Your mind was, is, and will always be your own God given gift to you from the beginning to the end to forever..For you to be free to learn with, make choices with, reshape, and change your own life with,as much as you want to, when you want to, so you may have peace, wisdom, and understanding in your life. You can try to teach others, but their mind is also their own. The BPD use to say, "we share a brain." Nobody can. Not even if you or they wanted to. It is all your own, and always was, and will be, to say or do whatever you please. In reality, he cannot share it, cut it in half, or do whatever he wants with your mind. It is yours, and no one elses. Even God, will not force you to believe or become emeshed, if you do not freely choose to. Quote by an0ught "in what sort of relationship do you want to live in  5 years"? My answer would be one in which no one wants to share my brain.
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« Reply #49 on: September 10, 2013, 04:26:19 AM »

heartandwhole!  
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« Reply #50 on: September 16, 2013, 11:54:36 AM »

I reinforced this enmeshment and his "control" over me this weekend when I wanted to spend some time with a girl friend but didn't call her or even mention it to uBPDbf knowing that when I did, he would rage.  I didn't stand up for myself and make plans that a person in a "normal" r/s would do without much thought.  I need to work on that immediately because I'm in worse shape than I even realized.

Hi Toomanyeggshells, I have been in your shoes and know well the feeling of being "stuck" in a BPD r/s, when it seems like you can't move forward or backward.  I remember making excuses to myself why I didn't get together with friends, or cancelled again when we had made tentative plans.  I was too afraid to rock the boat because, on some level, I feared that my BPDexW would rage at me, which is usually what happened.

I can only say that it helped me when I reached the place of BTFI (beyond the F*** it), when I realized that my survival depended upon having relationships with friends and family outside of the insular world of my marriage.  If you reach this point, you are willing to say "damn the torpedos, full speed ahead" which makes a huge difference.  You come to realize that your freedom is worth fighting for.  This sounds dramatic, but I think you see what I"m getting at.

Hang in there,

Lucky Jim

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« Reply #51 on: September 17, 2013, 08:13:42 AM »

An excellent topic.

I am enmeshed with my two sons that live with me.

The co-dependence is complicated b/c of our living situation (the oldest is supporting me for the most part and the younger has emotional/physical issues). I'll go into details at another time.

Will you be addressing parent/child co-dependence as a different topic?

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« Reply #52 on: October 21, 2013, 10:04:33 AM »

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.[/color][/i]

My primary struggle today is with my BPDDD27. My marriage has been impacted by this also, especially when baby DD came along 10 years into our marriage via adoption (3 weeks old). My marriage is improving. I feel so much intolerable pain in the detaching from DD that I often run away - ie. over-disengage. So DD has felt this over-engaged/under-engaged cycle with me from the beginning. There have been many moments of my understanding this inconsistency, and the damaging impacts on DD's growth as a child. Yet, I have not been able to sustain a healthy connection. She seemed so needy of my protection. Feels very complex to me.

Where are we today? DD has been in jail 7 weeks. Third time this year for exbf pursuing harrassment charges against her. Yes, she was harrassing him, as she has often harrassed everyone else in her life as they fell from the pedestal. And I am trying to not protect her from the consequences, though bailed her out the first two times, to her detriment. I filed this last complaint after she violated the no-contact order at our home with exbf and this had triggering impact on gd8 (dh and I have custody of gd since she was baby, even though DD has lived in our home often in these 8 years). So not protecting gd enough is also a complication in my story. Of course DD blames me for this time in jail, and the prospect of more harsh sanctions when she has her hearing in court Thursday. How do I balance loving support of her -which she reaches out for - with wanting to cushion the impact as much as possible? She cries to me - don't abandon me - even as she blames me harshly. I am in turmoil and sink into the abyss of enmeshment.

Does this tell how we got here, and what our roles are? Now, how to I get out of here? How do I detach with love? I do not anticipate a truly interdependant r/s with DD. We both need lots of recovery. I want to work on a healthy connection with her. And to support a healthy connection between her and gd. And I need lots of patience, persistence an endurance to get to this place.

What is the next step?

qcr
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« Reply #53 on: October 22, 2013, 02:01:37 PM »

Hi qcarolr,

it is hard to close your eyes to the drama on your DD side   It is not reasonable to expect yourself being able to shut off these emotions either. It is genuinely human to suffer when a person so close to you suffers. It is part and parcel of your connection with her, we are wired to feel stronger in relation to people closer to us.

You are describing well on an intellectual level what is going on, which can be a useful way to create some distance from the drama. It still leaves you with all the emotions to deal with and from using words like "abyss" that sounds like you are mightily overwhelmed. It is natural to feel these contradictory emotions of love, guilt, anger and more. It may be helpful to express them in a safe environment and seek some validation to calm yourself.

In addition to your own emotions there will be transfered emotions in you. Dealing with a pwBPD means dealing with a person who feels extremely strong emotions and is able to project them. Validating the pwBPD is one way to verbalize those foreign emotions and by that being better able to recognize them as foreign. Making clear who owns what. Validation is a useful tool to protect our own sanity. It is disengaging from unconscious transference and building health connection.

Does this tell how we got here, and what our roles are? Now, how to I get out of here? How do I detach with love? I do not anticipate a truly interdependant r/s with DD. We both need lots of recovery. I want to work on a healthy connection with her. And to support a healthy connection between her and gd.

Dealing with co-dependence also means dealing with our need to control outcomes. A lot of things in life are outside of our control although we struggle to accept it and often pretend that we are when we are not. Living with a pwBPD means dealing with plenty out of our control. Most certainly the other side of our relationship with the pwBPD is out of our hands.

Now it would be fallacy just because plenty is out of control it is not worth planning and having goals. We have control over our side. We can move towards were we want to be. There may be detours but we have a general heading. We take the right steps - steps we believe are right and are aligned with our values - and we can feel satisfied. Satisfaction from moving in the right direction. Satisfaction now and not when we have reached the elusive goal of having the "right" relationship.

And I need lots of patience, persistence an endurance to get to this place.

Yes you do  . But then it is also a balancing act of investing into the relationship and getting something back. Without getting something along the way you will become exhausted and build up resentment.

So not protecting gd enough is also a complication in my story.

You worry rightly about gd8. You take steps to protect her. There are risks and consequences to any course you choose (and others including gd is choosing). It is painful for gd8 but then it is also not under your full control to protect gd8 either. What is under your full control is your side - being available to mitigate when needed.

There is wisdom in the serenity prayer:

Excerpt
God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

What is the next step?

There is not one next step. Getting where you want to be will take many steps. Under pressure it is easy to fall into the thinking that there are mostly wrong or right moves. Even more so as our moves in an enmeshed relationship are under constant and harsh judgment from the other side. That causes us to fear taking steps - a fear which is defeating even positive well executed steps as the fear will transfer on the pwBPD. It is important not to give into that thinking. Leaving the enmeshed state means regaining a sense of perspective, the ability to formulate our own plans and repairing our self management capability.  

Steps come in all forms and sizes. It can be useful to think about options/directions in terms of dualities.

 validation <-> boundary

 forgiving <-> accountability/consequences

 close <-> distant

 trust <-> skepticism

 vulnerability <-> self protection

 ...

A relationship needs or contains of all of these sometimes contradictory aspects. It is virtually impossible to get it right in one step. So we have boundaries but we also validate. We trust where it has been earned or we choose to invest but we also protect ourselves are are careful to limit our initial investments. We forgive losses but we also learn and draw consequences for ourselves.

Some steps in some circumstances may be simply wrong and still can be better as they give us something to learn. The worse alternative is worrying too much about what to do, not doing much for too long and then feeling forced to make a big step. As we are dealing with split realities where the ground can be shifting in zero time no step will ever be truly safe. But if we have good intentions and keep our steps small (our steps, not reactive steps so deliberate thinking at times is needed) we have a good chance to make progress. In any case we act in line with our values, can feel good about ourselves and we will live another day to make the next step.

Hang in there  

a0

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« Reply #54 on: October 23, 2013, 02:33:14 AM »

Very interesting topic.  I have learned a lot from the discussions.

The question was raised about the parent/child enmeshment process being different from the spouse/spouse or bf/gf types of enmeshment and/or co-dependence.

I am speaking specifically about adult children with mental illness who seek financial and emotional support from us, and at the same time hate us for doing anything to help.

Is anyone else out there dealing with this?   Are you able to keep it from becoming a burden?


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« Reply #55 on: October 23, 2013, 09:59:17 AM »

mammamia - yes and yes to your questions. And sometimes no to 'keep it from becoming a burden'.

I find with my BPDDD27 that when she is reaching out to me for help, I feel connected, have trouble being consistent with my boundaries out of fear of shifting her to projecting her overwhelming emotions onto me -- blaming and anger. I am finding that my struggle has a lot to do with seperating who I am from how she is doing.

Some of this may come from how much she did need me starting at a very early age - if she were a child today most likely on low end of autism spectrum. When I can look back with clarity at all that I did for her from her adoption at 3 weeks, I have put in an immense effort of love and advocacy for her. Now she is a needy adult, resistent to accepting the community support there for her, not letting go of me. So I keep stepping back to help her. This inconsistent response from me has gotten in her way to finding her own way.

The judge setting a very high bond in her current time in jail on probation violations and no-contact violations has forced me to stay out of her way. And guess what. She is aware of what she needs and is asking for help from the programs there for her. Now to continue to give the emotional, loving support that is appropriate from me when she gets released to new probation program. Dual-dx program with daily check-in, T, classes, etc.

We have set aside a portion of money to help her with housing. She knows it is short term. The program will try to get her housing assitance. This is part of our support for her to have a safe, stable place to be that is away from our home. Again to help me consistently stay out of her way.

I need to set strict boudnaries about getting too involved in her day to day life. She will ask for this from me, and already has as her release approaches. I need to continue to reach out to my own support network to keep me on track. To keep me out of her way. To encourage her to keep asking others for help to get her needs met -- for her to be learning to meet her own needs.

Another aspect is my belief, based on years and years of struggles, that she is not able to do this without me by her side. I have to accept she is an adult, and she is able to find adult ways to get her needs met. Stop being her 'mommy', and be her friend. She has been asking for this also. A friendly voice on the phone.

Where I am today.

qcr
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« Reply #56 on: October 23, 2013, 12:59:26 PM »

qcarolr

Thank you for your reply.  It is so difficult isn't it?  We can divorce a spouse or breakup with a partner... not so easy with a sick adult/child.  There are options and people who can help them help themselves but sadly, they come with a price in the form of admitting their disorder, crushing their already low self-esteem, and branding them to the world as mentally disabled.  That is how my dBPDs describes it.  Seeking outside assistance is a last resort.

On the flip side, these organizations are charged with treating the mentally ill with kindness and respect.  The hard part is getting sick people in the door.  Obviously, your daughter has had some counseling in jail and come to realize that asking others (besides the Bank of Mom) for help is ok.  It takes the pressure off the parents to some degree.

We are not there yet.  I am so happy that you are making progress in that direction.
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« Reply #57 on: November 03, 2013, 03:55:05 PM »

Beattie's book is a MUST READ, especially for "victim" types.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56458.0


She relates codependence to substance abuse, but the content relates to all types of dysfunction. I ask my clients to read the book and substitute "depression", "anger", "neglect", whatever was the theme at home whenever the alcohol word comes up. Its the same thing."

Codependency involves a habitual system of thinking, feeling, and behaving toward ourselves and others that can cause pain.

Codependent behaviors or habits are self-destructive.

We frequently react to people who are destroying themselves; we react by learning to destroy ourselves. These habits can lead us into, or keep us in, destructive relationships that don't work. These behaviors can sabotage relationships that may otherwise have worked. These behaviors can prevent us from finding peace and happiness with the most important person in our lives... ourselves. These behaviors belong to the only person we can change.. ourselves. These are our problems.

The following are characteristics of codependent persons: (We started to do these things out of necessity to protect ourselves and meet our needs.)

Care Taking


Codependents may,

1. Think and feel responsible for other people---for other people's feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being, and ultimate destiny.

2. Feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem.

3. Feel compelled --almost forced -- to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unwanted advice, giving a rapid-fire series of suggestions, or fixing feelings.

4. Feel angry when their help isn't effective.

5. Anticipate other people's needs

6. Wonder why others don't do the same for them.

7. Don't really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things other people are capable of doing for themselves.

8. Not knowing what they want and need, or if they do, tell themselves what they want and need is not important.

9. Try to please others instead of themselves.

10. Find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others rather than injustices done to themselves.

11. Feel safest when giving.

12. Feel insecure and guilty when somebody gives to them.

13. Feel sad because they spend their whole lives giving to other people and nobody gives to them.

14. Find themselves attracted to needy people.

15. Find needy people attracted to them.

16. Feel bored, empty, and worthless if they don't have a crisis in their lives, a problem to solve, or someone to help.

17. Abandon their routine to respond to or do something for somebody else.

18. Over commit themselves.

19. Feel harried and pressured.

20. Believe deep inside other people are somehow responsible for them.

21. Blame others for the spot the codependents are in.

22. Say other people make the codependents feel the way they do.

23. Believe other people are making them crazy.

24. Feel angry, victimized, unappreciated, and used.

25. Find other people become impatient or angry with them for all of the preceding characteristics.

Low Self Worth


Codependents tend to:

1. Come from troubled, repressed, or dysfunctional families.

2. Deny their family was troubled, repressed or dysfunctional.

3. Blame themselves for everything.

4. Pick on themselves for everything, including the way they think, feel, look, act, and behave.

5. Get angry, defensive, self-righteous, and indigent when others blame and criticize the codependents -- something codependents regularly do to themselves.

6. Reject compliments or praise

7. Get depressed from a lack of compliments and praise (stroke deprivation)

8. Feel different from the rest of the world.

9. Think they're not quite good enough.

10. Feel guilty about spending money on themselves or doing unnecessary or fun things for themselves.

11. Fear rejection.

12. Take things personally.

13. Have been victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or alcoholism.

14. Feel like victims.

15. Tell themselves they can't do anything right.

16. Be afraid of making mistakes.

17. Wonder why they have a tough time making decisions.

18. Have a lot of "shoulds".

19. Feel a lot of guilt.

20. Feel ashamed of who they are.

21. Think their lives are not worth living.

22. Try to help other people live their lives instead.

23. Get artificial feelings of self-worth from helping others.

24. Get strong feelings of low self-worth ---embarrassment, failure, etc... from other people's failures and problems.

25. Wish good things would happen to them.

26. Believe good things never will happen.

27. Believe they don't deserve good things and happiness.

28. Wish others would like and love them.

29. Believe other people couldn't possibly like and love them.

30. Try to prove they're good enough for other people.

31. Settle for being needed.

Repression



Many Codependents:

1. Push their thoughts and feelings out of their awareness because of fear and guilt.

2. Become afraid to let themselves be who they are.

3. Appear rigid and controlled.

Obsession


Codependents tend to:

1. Feel terribly anxious about problems and people.

2. Worry about the silliest things.

3. Think and talk a lot about other people.

4. Lose sleep over problems or other people's behavior.

5. Worry

6. Never Find answers.

7. Check on people.

8. Try to catch people in acts of misbehavior.

9. Feel unable to quit talking, thinking, and worrying about other people or problems.

10. Abandon their routine because they are so upset about somebody or something.

11. Focus all their energy on other people and problems.

12. Wonder why they never have any energy.

13. Wonder why they can't get things done.

Controlling


Many codependents:

1. Have lived through events and with people that were out of control, causing the codependents sorrow and disappointment.

2. Become afraid to let other people be who they are and allow events to happen naturally.

3. Don't see or deal with their fear of loss of control.

4. Think they know best how things should turn out and how people should behave.

5. Try to control events and people through helplessness, guilt, coercion, threats, advice-giving, manipulation, or domination.

6. Eventually fail in their efforts or provoke people's anger.

7. Get frustrated and angry.

8. Feel controlled by events and people.

Denial


Codependents tend to:

1. Ignore problems or pretend they aren't happening.

2. Pretend circumstances aren't as bad as they are.

3. Tell themselves things will be better tomorrow.

4. Stay busy so they don't have to think about things.

5. Get confused.

6. Get depressed or sick.

7. Go to doctors and get tranquilizers.

8. Become workaholics.

9. Spend money compulsively.

10. Overeat.

11. Pretend those things aren't happening either.

12. Watch problems get worse.

13. Believe lies.

14. Lie to themselves.

15. Wonder why they feel like they're going crazy.



Dependency


Many codependents:

1. Don't feel happy, content, or peaceful with themselves.

2. Look for happiness outside themselves.

3. Latch onto whoever or whatever they think can provide happiness.

4. Feel terribly threatened by the loss of any thing or person they think proves their happiness.

5. Didn't feel love and approval from their parents.

6. Don't love themselves.

7. Believe other people can't or don't love them.

8. Desperately seek love and approval.

9. Often seek love from people incapable of loving.

10. Believe other people are never there for them.

11. Equate love with pain.

12. Feel they need people more than they want them.

13. Try to prove they're good enough to be loved.

14. Don't take time to see if other people are good for them.

15. Worry whether other people love or like them.

16. Don't take time to figure out if they love or like other people.

17. Center their lives around other people.

18. Look for relationships to provide all their good feelings.

19. Lost interest in their own lives when they love.

20. Worry other people will leave them.

21. Don't believe they can take care of themselves.

22. Stay in relationships that don't work.

23. Tolerate abuse to keep people loving them.

24. Feel trapped in relationships.

25. Leave bad relationships and form new ones that don't work either.

26. Wonder if they will ever find love.



Poor Communication


Codependents frequently:

1. Blame

2. Threaten

3. Coerce

4. Beg

5. Bribe

6. Advise

7. Don't say what they mean.

8. Don't mean what they say.

9. Don't know what they mean.

10. Don't take themselves seriously.

11. Think other people don't take the codependents seriously.

12. Take themselves too seriously.

13. Ask for what they want and need indirectly --- sighing, for example.

14. Find it difficult to get to the point.

15. Aren't sure what the point is.

16. Gauge their words carefully to achieve a desired effect.

17. Try to say what they think will please people.

18. Try to say what they think will provoke people.

19. Try to say what they hop will make people do what they want them to do.

20. Eliminate the word NO from their vocabulary.

21. Talk too much.

22. Talk about other people.

23. Avoid talking about themselves, their problems, feelings, and thoughts.

24. Say everything is their fault.

25. Say nothing is their fault.

26. Believe their opinions don't matter.

27. Want to express their opinions until they know other people's opinions.

28. Lie to protect and cover up for people they love.

29. Have a difficult time asserting their rights.

30. Have a difficult time expressing their emotions honestly, openly, and appropriately.

31. Think most of what they have to say is unimportant.

32. Begin to talk in Cynical, self-degrading, or hostile ways.

33. Apologize for bothering people.

Weak Boundaries


Codependents frequently:

1. Say they won't tolerate certain behaviors from other people.

2. Gradually increase their tolerance until they can tolerate and do things they said they would never do.

3. Let others hurt them.

4. Keep letting others hurt them.

5. Wonder why they hurt so badly.

6. Complain, blame, and try to control while they continue to stand there.

7. Finally get angry.

8. Become totally intolerant.

Lack of Trust


Codependents

1. Don't trust themselves.

2. Don't trust their feelings.

3. Don't trust their decisions.

4. Don't trust other people.

5. Try to trust untrustworthy people.

6. Think God has abandoned them.

7. Lose faith and trust in God.

Anger


Many Codependents:

1. Feel very scared, hurt, and angry

2. Live with people who are very scared, hurt, and angry.

3. Are afraid of their own anger.

4. Are frightened of other people's anger.

5. Think people will go away if anger enters the picture.

6. Feel controlled by other people's anger.

7. Repress their angry feelings.

8. Think other people make them feel angry.

9. Are afraid to make other people feel anger.

10. Cry a lot, get depressed, overact, get sick, do mean and nasty things to get even, act hostile, or have violent temper outbursts.

11. Punish other people for making the codependents angry.

12. Have been shamed for feeling angry.

13. Place guilt and shame on themselves for feeling angry.

14. Feel increasing amounts of anger, resentment, and bitterness.

15. Feel safer with their anger than hurt feelings.

16. Wonder if they'll ever not be angry.

Sex Problems.


Some codependents:

1. Are caretakers in the bedroom.

2. Have sex when they don't want to.

3. Have sex when they'd rather be held, nurtured, and loved.

4. Try to have sex when they're angry or hurt.

5. Refuse to enjoy sex because they're so angry at their partner

6. Are afraid of losing control.

7. Have a difficult time asking for what they need in bed.

8. Withdraw emotionally from their partner.

9. Feel sexual revulsion toward their partner.

10. Don't talk about it.

11. Force themselves to have sex, anyway.

12. Reduce sex to a technical act.

13. Wonder why they don't enjoy sex.

14. Lose interest in sex.

15. Make up reasons to abstain.

16. Wish their sex partner would die, go away, or sense the codependent's feelings.

17. Have strong sexual fantasies about other people.

18. Consider or have an extramarital affair.

Miscellaneous


Codependents tend to:

1. Be extremely responsible.

2. Be extremely irresponsible.

3. Become martyrs, sacrificing their happiness and that of others for causes that don't require sacrifice.

4. Find it difficult to feel close to people.

5. Find it difficult to have fun and be spontaneous.

6. Have an overall passive response to codependency -- crying, hurt, helplessness.

7. Have an overall aggressive response to codependency -- violence, anger, dominance.

8. Combine passive and aggressive responses.

9. Vacillate in decisions and emotions.

10. Laugh when they feel like crying.

11. Stay loyal to their compulsions and people even when it hurts.

12. Be ashamed about family, personal, or relationship problems.

13. Be confused about the nature of the problem.

14. Cover up, lie, and protect the problem.

15. Not seek help because they tell themselves the problem isn't bad enough, or they aren't important enough.

16. Wonder why the problem doesn't go away.

Progressive


In the later stages of codependency, codependents may:

1. Feel lethargic.

2. Feel depressed.

3. Become withdrawn and isolated.

4. Experience a complete loss of daily routine and structure.

5. Abuse or neglect their children and other responsibilities.

6. Feel hopeless.

7. Begin to plan their escape from a relationship they feel trapped in.

8. Think about suicide.

9. Become violent.

10. Become seriously emotionally, mentally, or physically ill.

11. Experience an eating disorder (over- or under eating)

12. Become addicted to alcohol or other drugs.

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ucmeicu2
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« Reply #58 on: November 03, 2013, 03:57:56 PM »

in considering my part in the r/s with xBPDgf, or really the larger picture of digging around and asking myself questions like "who am i? what's the problem(s)? how can i heal?" co-dependency is something i've been exploring more...

i read free2forward's post abt co-dependency where she copy/pasted a list of characteristics and i thought the list was long and wondered where she got it so i google searched and good god i found lists even more longer, more comprehensive.  this one (above) was so long i couldn't includ this part written by me b/c it exceeded the max characters allowed! 

and it has me really concerned.  i bought this book a couple weeks ago (!) but haven't gotten to THIS part yet.   is there anybody that doesn't have a lot of these? or  am i that much in denial about myself and the world-at-large?
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musicfan42
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« Reply #59 on: November 03, 2013, 04:17:11 PM »

I saw the codependency list before-it's SO long! It overwhelmed me every time I looked at it. I just decided to forget about it altogether and work on my habits instead.
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Suzn
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« Reply #60 on: November 06, 2013, 07:15:03 AM »

It is a long list isn't it? Not every codependent has every characteristic.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Are there any characteristics here you identify with?
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ucmeicu2
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« Reply #61 on: November 06, 2013, 12:54:45 PM »

Are there any characteristics here you identify with?

hi suzn, yes a staggering amount.  what's the general MO here... for me to post them, put 'em up for discussion?  i can do that, but the shorter list would probably be the ones i don't identify with.   

the thing is, i'm confused b/c there's controversy as to whether CoDa is even a real thing ~ i read it's not even in the DSM.


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peas
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« Reply #62 on: November 06, 2013, 03:59:59 PM »

I understand this list, but what if I caused the problems/mess for someone that I am co-dependently trying to clean up?

I demonstrated many of these co-dependent traits but only with regard to me leaving my uBPDexbf for a job out of town right after we met. We were together a month and then I had to move out of town for work. We continued for six more months long distance, but he blamed me the whole time, guilt tripped me and raged about it. I felt really guilty about his hard emotions with me leaving town and I worked like crazy to overcompensate and try to alleviate his pain of me being gone and I did it in the co-dependent mold. Other than that, I don't see myself as an all-around co-dependent person. I usually live and let live.

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« Reply #63 on: November 06, 2013, 09:54:22 PM »

Codependency is not in the DSM - it's not a disease - maybe more of a proclivity or a relationship pattern or a dysfunctional response to relationship failure. 

Codependents are people who find themselves in relationships with people who, at some point, neither seem interested nor motivated to participate in mutual or reciprocal basis.  The partners of codependents are often egotistical, self-centered and/or selfish.  Typically, codependents feel unfulfilled, disrespected and undervalued by their relationship partner.  As much as they resent and complain about the inequity in their relationships, codependents feel powerless to change them.

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rosannadanna
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« Reply #64 on: November 07, 2013, 10:25:06 AM »

I consider codependency to be a world view and the way one interacts with that perceived world.  It's only dysfunctional if the person is unhappy with his/her life and wants to change the way they see/interact with the world.  I think there is a crapload of people in this country that fall within the parameters of codependency, but a lot of them just keep rolling through life, making choices that support their world view and make their lives manageable.

In my opinion, the parent/child relationship is where one learns the codependent world view.  The very act of having a child is narcissistic, if you think about it.  We do it for lots of different reasons, but they are narcissistically-based.  I think in many, many situations children end up in codependent situations with one or both of their parents.  I know I did and I struggle resisting doing the same crap to my son.

Just my opinion guys!  
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Ryyder

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« Reply #65 on: December 16, 2013, 05:10:34 PM »

Oh yes, I'm codependent alright and I don't think I would have ever known it if I hadn't fallen in love with my BPDbf

I spent all my time and energy of trying to fix him and neglected myself so much that I became depressed.

Now I have taken a step back and am able to see my part in our/my problems but fixing myself is waaaay harder than I imagined. I'm taking small steps, such as not reacting when he's in his push cycle; I'm just taking care of myself. I'm not chasing him like I used to when I felt him attempt to separate from me. I'm not offering suggestions when he hints that he wants me to sort his problems out for him, I simply validate that life can be hard sometimes.

I'm finally listening to my inner child and tending to her needs and she wants chocolate, a lot!
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Lucky One
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« Reply #66 on: October 13, 2014, 09:11:36 AM »

I did this Workshop over the weekend.

Very, very helpful in helping me to see myself, in a different light.

So, now I have some work to do - on myself! Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Thank You so much
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« Reply #67 on: October 13, 2014, 02:58:54 PM »

Wow!

I personally believe everyone has at least some of the qualities on this list, even people wBPD.  These are not all negative emotions.

It is called being human. 
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mrshambles
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« Reply #68 on: December 17, 2014, 11:27:29 PM »

Welp, this just blew my mind. I guess I know where I need go start now to fix myself. I always wondered what the weird feeling was at the end of my relationships... that anxiety filled, just... Ugh. I always considered myself too alpha to be codependent, but I suppose that was just a ruse. I'm glad I saw this, I can now roll up my sleeves and start the REAL work. Anyone else out there brave enough to discuss? I'm literally blow away right now.
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« Reply #69 on: February 12, 2015, 03:23:54 PM »

Welp, this just blew my mind. I guess I know where I need go start now to fix myself. I always wondered what the weird feeling was at the end of my relationships... that anxiety filled, just... Ugh. I always considered myself too alpha to be codependent, but I suppose that was just a ruse. I'm glad I saw this, I can now roll up my sleeves and start the REAL work. Anyone else out there brave enough to discuss? I'm literally blow away right now.

Hi mrshambles, Hi. I accept the challenge - i am brave enough to discuss.   Reading this thread it strikes me just how many people are going through or have gone through the exact things that I am.  I read "Codependent No More" about 15 years ago.  At the time i was able to see myself on those pages, but didn't realize just how enmeshed in my r/s with UBPDHi had become until my life really became unmanageable.  I was pushed and pulled, up and down, ruled by chaos until i just could not take it anymore.

Ripping myself away from the enmeshment has been lonely and difficult.  At times, I feel so free and comfortable with myself that I understand how worth the effort this process Is.

It got to the point where i was not doing anything I loved.  I had become a person unrecognizeable to myself.  When I look at how it began, (about 40 years ago)I see that i was trying to be accommodating and I am a patient, easy going person so i often gave in and gave up my own plans to go along with my husband. 

I felt selfish wanting things for myself.  Even small things.  My H and his family reinforced this belief.  I actually felt sorry for my H because of problems in his FOO (I think his dad was BPD or at least had many signs of it). Also, he always worked so hard and I felt like taking care of him was my job. 

There has been intermittent reinforcement.  We have had a lot of fun vacations, we have celebrated family milestones and success at working alongside each other.  These pleasant things have kept me in the r/s. 


On the other hand, so many things happened in our r/s that i should not have go e along with, but for some reason i gave my power in the r/s away.  There were times I tried to enforce my boundaries, but just felt overwhelmed or bowled over  by him.  I can never win an argument.  He is always louder, etc and will not concede.  Lately, I have learned to disengage before it gets to that point.  Yea!

I always thought if he would change, everything would be great.  Now i realize that I have a big codependent problem and I need to change myself.  Being in a r/s with pwBPD can be exciting.  I have opted to spend time by myself and have to admit there is a part of me that misses the excitement.

So what about you?  How are you dealing with this topic since you posted?
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« Reply #70 on: February 14, 2015, 02:29:48 AM »

thank you for sharing.
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« Reply #71 on: April 05, 2015, 07:20:57 PM »

OMG...

I never realized - I am doing the codependent thing! 

Idea  Idea  Idea

Have to admit I have not associated myself with codependency, because deep in the core of my identity is my sense of being independent. I do take care of myself (almost to the brink of being self-sufficient?), I do need to feel that my mind is free - thoughts are not dangerous - actions may be!

My mother taught me early on: Do not rely on others, the only one responsible for you, is you. (Well... the wording was perhaps more harsh, to tell you the truth, more like: Trust nobody but yourself, they will only disappoint you. Always be able to care for yourself, never ever trust a man to do that!)

Well, all my life I have been doing the independent "I can manage myself"-thing, I can see a read thread in my life: I have never ever attracted a boyfriend who would take care of me. Cause I take care of myself. I need nothing from you, but I will be glad to help you, if you need help - whatever you need. The best thing I know? To know what you need before you even realizing it yourself! Oh, that's a thrill!

All this time I have been thinking of myself as a very independent, always have been an introspective person, but at the same time, over-responsible and very sensitive towards other peoples hardships. Do I find it almost impossible to ask for help? Oh yes. Do I feel extremely akward recieving, is it the safest thing on earth to give? Guilty of charge! I do not see myself as "enabling" because I want to feel loved, I have kind of thought of it as "just the thing one does". But after reading this, I might have to dig deeper into my own psychology.

I am good at being alone - that is my default mode, so to speak, it doesn't stress me out, rather I need it (as an introvert). But have I all my life longed for a sense of companionship and belonging? Oh yes. I have been raised in an environment of "extreme" independence (and self-suffiency), but have fallen short of stating my own needs. My current r/s (uhm, we're having a break, or is it a break-up, for the moment I am not really sure) was the first to fulfill my deepest longing for this crazy romantic True Love Forever belonging to another person. Ah... bliss...

But now (2 years down the line) I really miss my freedom and myself, my friends and my own attitude. Freedom to act independently, and I am so sick of freedom being understood as The Most Dangerous thing! No, it's not freedom to f**k around, it's freedom to think and be myself! I need SPACE!

And then it's time for some praise:

I've read a lot of different forums on the internet for several years, but this forum has got to be THE forum with the highest density of members and postings filled with experience-based wisdom, truth, insight and genuine support. My deepest admirations to all of you. Lifealtering journey, starting as from now!

Thank you all for sharing! 
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« Reply #72 on: April 27, 2015, 01:21:06 PM »

Does not this article describe all people and to some extent a healthy relationship? Love is also need and we all need to some extent, correct? Wealth and money and freedom of responsibility has complicated our needs for each other in this modern time. In the days of practicality we loved and stayed with each other and we did not question why so much as much as we worked to keep it together and accepted it which made it good. Yes, "It's right" as opposed to "it's not right" can be all in the mind.
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Cosmic The Cat


« Reply #73 on: June 17, 2015, 09:48:54 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.



www.angelscommunity.com/EN/the_best_of_counsellor%27s_corner/recovering_from_codependency:_the_truth_about_people-pleasing/

We do have choices...

Love this, thanks for posting united for now .

I am an adult child of a boarderline mother and relationships have scared and confussed me my whole life.

After finding  bpdfamily and doing my family or origin work I started Who Me ~ Co-dependent? a Face Book page, as a personal project back in November 2012, as a way of educating myself, sharing resources and keeping the resources in the one place. I have recently set up  Who Me ~ Co-dependent? forum as a continuation of that work.

www.whomecodependent.boards.net/thread/79/who-me-dependent

There is such wisdom on bpdfamily and I am so grateful for the service they provide and everyone who contributes to this site.

Thankyou 

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« Reply #74 on: December 18, 2015, 12:54:17 AM »

I'm having difficulty identifying with all or any of these traits in my co-dependency. The degree of emotional response varies so much in my relationship with a BPDf, I know I am in some kind of relationship, possibly romantic and as a caregiver. We have really great times together, we don't have common interests but both our lives have been enriched by our influences on each other. For example, I have started reading much more because my partner gave me an app she thought of would be good for my entertainment and knowledge. I have expanded my interests, nothing to do with her interests. We share a love of food and cooking, but entirely different tastes and we have funny arguments about tastes and ingredients. We have fights, or disagreements but still respect each other's boundaries, but reading some of the "issues" here makes me sure I have a problem when in fact there may not be. The term "borderline" is just that, never clearly knowing if this condition is real or just our behavior analyses in a too intensely clinical way? She does get angry over small issues, as I do. I don't expect her to be like a Stepford wife. She has been to see psychiatrists, but they have said she is depressed because or work related stress, no mention of BPD, maybe she is not revealing it? I feel I am starting to thing crazy things about her which may not be true. Am I in denial? I find so many different ways of looking at our relationship, overthinking it?
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« Reply #75 on: January 22, 2016, 07:31:39 PM »

I have married alcoholism before and divorced it, spent time in Al Anon, so I really thought I was on the road of recovery with this codependency, but that was before I met a BPD. Its a horse of a different color, I have had to saddle up and learn a lot to strengthen my inner core. They are very high functioning, its just that they will keep taking, bit by bit, until they are done. If one is not thinking of boundaries, as I was not always thinking of them, because I was trusting, its easy to become complacent. This is not a wake up call one wants to face in a marriage.  It took me years because I would not face it UNTIL it showed itself as alcohlism, something I was familiar with tying to codependency.
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