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Author Topic: When to stop Enabling  (Read 1234 times)

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Posts: 7

« on: November 08, 2011, 02:28:10 PM »

My apologies for asking some things that are basic and probably in some books, but I am living in the Middle East and cannot get BPD books easily until I go home in the summer. 

As a parent I want to support my son...and do so financially.  But he has dropped out of the third post secondary school, and is begging me to fly there or have him fly here as he is suicidal.  He sees a therapist once a week and cannot see her until Thursday.  He is in his apartment and is sending many, many text messages about how he cannot continue, wants to kill himself and is furious with me for not being there to help him.  When I tell him I will move back, he becomes angry because I will not have a good job and we will be poor.

I cannot take the messages anymore.  I have bankrupted myself twice giving in to his needs and demands - ever since he was a little boy, it was this way.  And I am terrified that he will get into drugs, or worse if I don't help out.

If he quits school now, he will owe thousands in student loan - and I fear his dependency on me is so destructive as I am 54 and can only support him for so long...my health is stressed even now as I try to deal with this long distance.

How much is too much?  What does a good parent do in this situation?

Our objective is to better understand the struggles our child faces and to learn the skills to improve our relationship and provide a supportive environment and also improve on our own emotional responses, attitudes and effectiveness as a family leaders
If you are no longer in contact with your child please post on Estranged from a Son or Daughter Suffering From BPD.
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2011, 04:50:15 PM »

He is threatening suicide; perhaps a call to the police or emergency services or the counseling center at his school would be a first step.  They can evaluate his condition and offer him help.  The idea that he "can't continue" for two days until he sees his therapist is somewhat alarming.  Continue what? Academic and career decisions are not that urgent.  What is it that is causing him such immediate distress? I would first try to deal with this crisis by getting him immediate help.  Depending on what happens next, you may want to explore all your options.  It sounds as if you are not comfortable with either bringing him to where you are or leaving him on his own, but are there other possibilities?  Is there someone else who can help?  Alternatives to attending college?  Is he capable of working to support himself while he makes decisions about his education and future? Supposing you move to where he is or bring him to where you are, could you set up and enforce conditions and boundaries?  For instance, he can stay with you until next summer, or you will move if you can find a satisfactory job, or he can live with you but has to contribute a certain amount to his own support and has to follow certain rules ... whatever conditions you could reasonably live with.  I assume he is still young.  Many college students still depend at least partially on parental support, and many become very confused about what they want to do with their lives. But they cannot go on borrowing money forever.  It sounds as if he could benefit from some counseling aimed at helping him identify his interests and options in life.  If he comes up with a realistic plan, can you help within your limits?  These are questions you may want to consider.  Wishing both of you you the best.  Having college students away from home is not easy.
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 06:33:38 PM »

It is often advised to have 911 called in the U.S. for situations like this. I would do the same. He is guilting you into taking care of him. He's an adult, it's not your job...he needs to change his own diaper.
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Posts: 4896

« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2011, 11:28:16 PM »

Initforlife - First let him know to contact a suicide hotline, or you will do it for him. I have consistently done this for my DD, now 25, whenever she called with this level of crisis. You cannot be there to hold his hand through this - he needs to be willing to accept the help that is available for him. I do not know what country he is in - most do have something like this in a college town.

Then the questions VIolet asked are good ones to ponder. I am 56, my dh is 61, and we cannot financially support our DD25. We have let her know the limits of our help. It took her being homeless for a long bit for her to start making better choices, yet she is now moving in a more postive direction and she is able to live in our home again. She is willing now to be part of a program to help her get a job - and once I got her started she is doing this work on her own.

It has also taken me learning many new tools and skills - many of them from here at FTF - to communicate with her better, validate her feelings while keeping boundaries in place that protect me and the others in the family. This is especially hard when our kids are threatening themselves. Have you worked through any of the lessons yet at What can a parent do? (for parents of pwBPD) ? These helped me a lot to understand better what my DD was going through and how I could help her while taking care of myself.

Please keep us updated on how things are going.



The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Dom Helder)
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Posts: 9576

we can all evolve into someone beautiful

« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 09:01:31 AM »

dear initforlife,

so very sorry to hear that your BPDs is in such a state of crisis.  it must be so scary for you being so far away from him.   

it is difficult to not enable when we are being emotionally blackmailed...the fear in us causes confusion on what the right thing to do is!  ?

perhaps learning how to help him without enabling is a good place to start.  a great resource, available for purchase online at amazon.com is the book "i don't have to make everything all better" by gary and joy lundberg.  i encourage you to check into this, it has helped so many of us here on the supporting board.


BPDd-13 Residential Treatment - keep believing in miracles

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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2011, 06:47:19 AM »

He doesn't really want you to drop your life for him (thank God).  What he wants is everyone around him to act as he sees fit.  Even if you all do that, he won't be any less angry.  He is crying out for help but you can't give him the help he needs - only God and a change in his thinking can.  A therapist may be able to help keep him alive and give him relief, but sooner or later he is going to have to find a spiritual way of living to grow up and become the man God wants him to be in this world.  A spiritual way of living isn't necessarily being a "monk", it's just adopting spiritual principles and with THAT kind of support, trying to live them the best he can.  He can find this way of living in various places.  My first suggestion is a 12-step program of recovery because it straightens out the distorted thinking (the REAL problem) of human beings like him and me, whatever our "diagnoses" are.  He could also find a faith-based program of help somewhere.

A parent's main job is to pass on spiritual principles to their children, but very very few people understand this and do it. We are all very human in this modern world and we tell them it's about education or work or getting married, etc...that's all good stuff but it will never be enough for sensitive, troubled people like him and me.  I did recover from BPD by using the 12 steps.  That's because the symptoms of BPD is the same thing as the thinking problem of the alcoholic.  The alcoholic simply drank over his woes, that's all.  You might even call these symptoms "Humanism".

Best of luck.  Take it easy on yourself.  The solution is a LOT simpler than we always thought.

Peace and Love.
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Seeking light by letting go

« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2011, 11:09:43 AM »

As I have taken this journey, I learned that one way of looking at enabling is doing something for someone they can do for themselves.  And that is not ever helpful.

So, what is he able to do for himself, and what do you do that he could,or should, do for himself?

I ask this a lot.
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2011, 12:54:52 AM »

I have been struggling to let go of my need to take care of my DD25, most esp. since finding FTF about 2 years ago after DD's BPD dx was added to the list. I came to the place where only a physical seperation and VLC provided me the space I needed to figure this out. I tried NC, but could not maintain that for long. It was a grueling 20 months while she lived homeless on the streests of learning, practicing new skills, keeping my boundaries of not being abused by yelling, name calling, threats of violence against me or ones I love. And gradually DD took charge of her life. In May she called after a violent altercation with her then bf asking to sleep on our couch a few days while she figured out how to get a life. We bought her a motel room for a week as a birthday gift. This was the first time in a long time that she was sober, alone (with her new puppy), on her meds. and feeling that someone cared as it rained most of that week. In June after another, more intense fight (turns out he was sleeping with his dealer and heavily into meth) we allowed her to come sleep on our couch - could not afford the motel and the dog was destructive there. What moved me to get her was her statement "I want to get a life. How do I go about this?"

Now, after over 4 months, only 3 real meltdowns over transportation (surface issue - never really clear on reality issue buried in her), we are making good progress. She worked to get her drivers license reinstated after 3 years (DUI consequence) and can drive my car on dh days off so have alternate transportation. SHe has made real efforts to build a new, healthier relationship with her daugther - gd6 that we have legal custody of, she has stayed on her meds. and overall seems not to be abusing substances though still drinking  occasionally and smoking her medical pot. She is able to calmly talk to me about issues that I am avoiding and always have. We have started family therapy with the child T that has worked with gd & I. She is working with the state voc rehab to try to get a job, and has some success for the first time with a job assessment on site with a job coach.

I am learning to feel my emotions and confront painful issues that have been avoided for a long time - returning to my T to work on overcoming my continuing depression ---- addiction to chaos. Peacefulness is scary for me -so far outside my comfort zone.

Guess this is my story of learning to stop enabling. My dh is on the same team with me in this, though he gets the skills as a 'triclkle-down' from me. I am so very grateful for all the help and guidance I have gotten from FTF and my Al ANon family group.

Keep working on making your life better -- it can translate into making you r/s with your BPD kids better too.


The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Dom Helder)
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