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Author Topic: 1.03 | Being An Emotional Caregiver  (Read 6976 times)
an0ught
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« on: April 23, 2012, 01:15:32 PM »

Role of "Emotional Caretaker": According to Kraft Goin MD (University of Southern California), "borderlines need a person who is a constant, continuing, empathic force in their lives; someone who can listen and handle being the target of intense rage and idealization while concurrently defining limits and boundaries with firmness and candor".  To be in this type of relationship, you must accept the role as emotional caretaker - consistently staying above it.  

~ Maintaining routine and structure

~ Setting and maintain boundaries

~ Being empathetic, building trust, even in difficult times

~ Don’t tolerate abusive treatment, threats and ultimatums

~ In crisis, stay calm, don’t get defensive, don't take it personally

~ Don’t protect them from natural consequences of their actions - let them fail

~ Self-Destructive acts/threats require action

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esmcgreer

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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2012, 02:08:33 PM »

I really challenge the idea that this is a relationship at all.  This is totally one sided.  You are taking care of someone, they don't take care of you.  Reading that almost makes me wonder what is wrong with people who would volunteer to do this, including myself.  I also challenge the idea that this is truly an illness.  Perhaps people really need to label something to better explain it.  Maybe these BPD people are selfish and abusive because they don't care about other people.  I imagine it is perhaps both legitimate disorder and ugly character traits combined.   Just my two cents.  I'm sure I'm not the only one to have had these thoughts.  
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2012, 03:09:59 PM »

Excerpt
I really challenge the idea that this is a relationship at all.

Not to sound cliche, but it's not like this ALL the time.  A pwBPD can often function at some level in an r/s and in society pretty well for periods of time, and then hit periods of dysfunction that can ebb and flow like tides.  Some are cyclic in their triggers, like my mom who has a freak out every fall without fail, others are triggered by new things, by work, by their own internal thoughts. 

My BF can in in his own mind does try to be a good BF, and as we've both working blindly on things over the years, he's doing better and better... .but's it's a series of baby steps.  He feels his anger is understandable, and really thinks all people feel his intensity of emotions, and that his disproportionate responses to things are justified. 

I have to agree that the actions of the pwBPD can be self centered and abusive.  But I don't think all of them are aware of this, I really think they feel justified and rational about their decisions, actions and behavior.  It seems malicious.  It seems purposeful.  But if it truly is a mental illness, it's hard to see how much really rational thought can be attributed to abusive acts, especially for those who disassociate during rages, and don't even remember much afterwards. 

And yes, I can feel one-sided at times.  And those moments when my BF shows the non-disordered man living inside him I could cry with joy.  But I look at it as being emotionally handicapped, and try to see that I could not expect my emotionally paraplegic BF to be as equal in his emotional activity any more than I could a physical paraplegic to be able to go rock climbing.  It can be done, but only with a lot of work, and a lot of it will fall on my end. 

~ Maintaining routine and structure

He fights this.  I try to eat and sleep within a reasonable window each night.  And am starting to just do it for myself and let him catch up when he chooses.  If he wasn't to follow my example, great.  If not, he can be sleepy or fix his own food.

~ Setting and maintain boundaries

I am slowly working on this.  I grew up co-dependent, and am pretty enmeshed.  I have a hard time even stating my own likes at times, out of fear of choosing the wrong thing or offending someone else.  I feel bad/wrong, needing or wanting things that don't jive with someone else.  It's how I was raised.  I am trying to be better about leaving when I can when things get bad, to take a break.  This usually involves me asking him not to call me names or be rude just because he is angry, and then inventing an errand to leave.  And then there's the eating and trying to sleep on time, which is a sort of boundary, I guess.  It's a work in progress

~ Being empathetic, building trust, even in difficult times

I am uber empathetic.  After the storm, getting to the trusting stage is okay, but the storm really sucks.

~ Don_
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2012, 02:51:01 AM »

I have struggled the most with letting them fail.  It's hard not to at least try to protect or look out for the people we care about.  In the beginning all of these I struggled with though, but that is the one that still makes me feel uneasy still.  I've learned to just ask her self absorbing questions to make her think things through on her own.  Stopped trying to give her advice (because she does the complete opposite of what I say anyway  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)) and try my best not to worry or follow up.

Without having read the entire message I may be taking this out of context.  Because I can see the "maintaining routine and structure" being contradictory for supporting a person with BPD.  In regards to how you treat them I agree.  Be consistent.  Don't want to run up and shock someone that is already on edge 90% of the time.  But I don't agree that you should never change or challenge the status quo of the relationship.  Taking a page from the military and emergency service personnel, we learn how to manage ourselves during stressful situations by exposing ourselves to those situations.  Maybe this is something that should be strictly left to the professionals (another discussion all together) but I believe it's another tool we can use to help improve the relationship.   
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2012, 05:25:53 AM »

BPD is a real mental illness, one that produces very challenging behavior that is difficult for loved ones to deal with. (Which is not to say that there aren't plenty of difficult people who do not have BPD or any other mental illness; there are.)

It is a difficult balance - you will need strength and consistency, but you will also need to realize that you can't really change or manage the other person. You can only change or mange your interaction with the other person.
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2012, 05:50:33 AM »

I really challenge the idea that this is a relationship at all.  This is totally one sided.  You are taking care of someone, they don't take care of you.  

I didn't become friends with my fBPD so that I could be taken care of. In fact I don't think I have evaluated a potential friend or SO in terms of how well they might be able to take of me. Caring about someone means that I do so without the expectation(s) that the other person is going repay me in kind--or that the scale will always be balanced.

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CodependentHusband
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2012, 08:16:07 AM »

This is definitely a demanding role, and I struggle particularly with allowing my dBPDw to fail. I'm getting much better at that, but I still catch myself from time to time.

Is it one-sided? I don't think that it is balanced, but to go as far as calling it one-sided seems like black and white thinking to me. What do nons get in return and is it worth it? There are a lot of factors to consider and every person and relationship is unique. In my case, it's worth it. I happen to love my wife unconditionally. I don't say that with pride, it's just what I have come to realize.
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esmcgreer

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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2012, 09:04:34 AM »

My point is simply that the relationship is not healthy, or balanced.  Ideally husbands and wives support and look after each other.  I didn't get married to be taken care of, I wasn't saying that, however it is sad to come to the knowledge that you don't have an emotional equal, or a competent partner in life.  You are alone in many ways. 

The scales in any relationship are not always balanced, and it would be very selfish to demand that for every kind thing you do that you be repaid to balance the scales.  I don't think that is love.  I don't think it's love either to sacrifice every bit of yourself to this person and their illness.  I think all of us may have asked our selves the question, "What is wrong with ME that I continually put up with this abuse?"  Sometimes I think we get involved with people like this because we are not healthy ourselves.  I am just speaking for me and my relationship by the way, I make no attempt to assess any one else's life or situtation.  I feel like some feathers got ruffled here, so I do apologize if I hurt any feelings.  I'm feeling really fragile myself right now, after just surviving another round of rage that resulted in me having to take all four of my kids to the hotel in the middle of the night in tears after he ripped apart the house.  I guess I really don't need to hear how I need to be giving more right now, or that I am not loving him enough.  Please don't forget there is a real human being behind this computer and you don't know the battles I have fought.  This site is the only source of support for me.     
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an0ught
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2012, 12:21:36 PM »

A teacher of mine regularly claimed that his creative deviations from the laws of mathematics were there to catch the students being asleep. Similarly I claim that my use of the term "caregiver" instead of the term "caretaker" was intentional and not a Freudian slip  

It is worth studying the definition in detail.

To be in this type of relationship, you must accept the role as emotional caretaker - consistently staying above it.

~ Maintaining routine and structure

~ Setting and maintain boundaries

~ Being empathetic, building trust, even in difficult times

~ Don_
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2012, 02:09:29 PM »

When reading it

 - is it about THEM or US?

 - is it asymmetric or is it defining one side of a relationship?]/b]

 - would be feel being pampered being on the other side or feeling respected?

These are provocative questions that require some self-reflection but these points should work both directions for US and THEM. However, it is never a two-way street with a BPD friend and I find myself putting work on the points mentioned for both of us.
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2012, 03:02:47 PM »

Not sure where I draw the line when my BPD wife becomes abusive. What should be the consequence? Am I protecting myself or am I angry and seeking retribution? She does not learn from consequence. She might be nice for a while, but the same behavior comes back. She has no insight as to cause and effect.
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2012, 03:27:07 PM »

Not sure where I draw the line when my BPD wife becomes abusive. What should be the consequence? Am I protecting myself or am I angry and seeking retribution? She does not learn from consequence. She might be nice for a while, but the same behavior comes back. She has no insight as to cause and effect.

It's my unprofessional opinion here, so take it for what it is worth. I don't think that consequences or retribution have a place in this. People with BPD have been widely reported to have an impairment with empathy and understanding cause in effect, especially when others respond to their negative behaviors. BPD sufferers really are disabled in this area, I'm convinced of that through observing my wife's behavior over a period of time.


When your wife is abusive, she really can't help it, so, it's all about boundaries. Boundaries are for you, and you alone. They define what actions you will take if certain circumstances exist. Boundaries are not 'rules' for others to follow... .in fact, they aren't even really 'rules' for yourself, because one boundary may have many different driving actions in order to be exercised, and the way that the boundary is protected may be different as well, depending on the circumstances. True 'rules' are more straightforward. Boundaries are for your protection, and that is all.

Boundary example:

"I will not allow others to abuse me"

How the boundary may be exercised: 1. Calmly exit the room when she is being abusive. If she follows you around the house, leave the house. 2. Hang up the phone as gracefully as possible if she verbally abuses you on the phone. 3. Do not respond to abusive text messages... .don't even read the text messages if you have a strong suspicion that they will be abusive because she is in a rage.

None of these actions are designed to be punitive to her... .now, she may view them that way, but that doesn't make it so. The actions are taken for the sole purpose of protecting yourself, and the relationship, from damage caused by abuse.


How does this all tie-in to emotional care-giving? Well, by being the one to take action that calms the situation, you are in effect regulating the highly-emotional interactions that are known to damage the relationship, your self-esteem, and her shame for her bad behaviors.
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Jej

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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2016, 08:18:15 PM »

Dear emscgreer, just wanted to say your last post on here struck a chord with me 100%. I understand your comments. I also notice the posts was 4 years ago so genuinely hope your life has improved x
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2017, 09:04:36 PM »

I have struggled the most with letting them fail.  It's hard not to at least try to protect or look out for the people we care about.  In the beginning all of these I struggled with though, but that is the one that still makes me feel uneasy still.  I've learned to just ask her self absorbing questions to make her think things through on her own.  Stopped trying to give her advice (because she does the complete opposite of what I say anyway  ) and try my best not to worry or follow up.

Without having read the entire message I may be taking this out of context.  Because I can see the "maintaining routine and structure" being contradictory for supporting a person with BPD.  In regards to how you treat them I agree.  Be consistent.  Don't want to run up and shock someone that is already on edge 90% of the time.  But I don't agree that you should never change or challenge the status quo of the relationship.  Taking a page from the military and emergency service personnel, we learn how to manage ourselves during stressful situations by exposing ourselves to those situations.  Maybe this is something that should be strictly left to the professionals (another discussion all together) but I believe it's another tool we can use to help improve the relationship.   

Well said, inspirationneeded.  With my pwBPD, i used to wonder if the irritation at constantly doing the opposite of my suggestions was real.  But i see that its just another piece of the dysfunction.  I will definitely see this in a differnet light from now on. 
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« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2017, 04:27:31 PM »

Esmcgeer - I understand where you are coming from. I get it. Yes people with BPD are suffering, but is it right or healthy to keep putting yourself in the firing line for the unpredictable abuse, and moods that often ensue? I have asked the same question of myself, and yes I think it tells a lot about me that I am still here, 10 years in. It worries me, frightens me, and support for both the BPD and non BPD is scarce. I wish you the best of luck xxx
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 11:35:54 AM »

Jej, I ask myself this same question, in a committed relationship, is it right or healthy to keep putting yourself in the line of fire.

I have just been through a very rough time with my spouse.  I have practiced enough to detach with love and for the most part enforce my boundaries against name calling and rage aimed at me.  Once my spouse kind of righted himself emotionally, he decided that he was going to do better.  He feared divorce, abandonment. 

Even though things are good right now and I can enjoy doing things as a couple for a little while, I know from years of experience that we are in a peaceful part of the cycle, but it will not last indefinitely.  Sooner or later, and I suspect sooner, things will take a dive again. 

I think even though I am aware of the symptoms, cycles, fears of pwBPD, it is very difficult to know that the good times will not last.  Someone said it is like being in the ocean and on top of a wave long enough to get a breath and then being sucked under again. 
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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2017, 11:54:22 AM »

Hi,

Makes me wonder why anyone would volunteer for a "relationship" like this, where they do all the giving and caring, unless perhaps with your own young child.  But for an adult, what is in it for them?  They live as a doormat and whipping boy for life?  There is a sense of righteousness in this list, as if anyone not agreeing to these rules must be a bad person. 

Been there, done that.  They do not change if they are in denial (and those with an NPD component are notoriously difficult to change at all), and you do not get a real adult relationship out of it.  Along the way, you are also likely to have to suffer through false allegations, sometimes very serious ones which can cut your life to pieces.  If there are children born to a relationship such as this, the children suffer. 

So if one person is expected to do all this giving, I would say that the BPD should be expecting to invest themselves in appropriate therapy as their part of the bargain.  Least they can do. 

My BPD/NPD spouse is just waltzing away, after a long marriage and four children.  He got the best of me then, and he is again getting the best of the deal.  With his NPD side, he is incapable of feeling grief or loss (Bowlby's "Pathological Mourning", so what does it matter to him?  Normal people go through quite wicked pain over an ordeal like this.

FD

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