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Family Court Strategies: When Your Partner Has BPD OR NPD Traits. Practicing lawyer, Senior Family Mediator, and former Licensed Clinical Social Worker with twelve years’ experience and an expert on navigating the Family Court process.
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Author Topic: Proving myself to others  (Read 359 times)
workinprogress
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« on: December 04, 2014, 05:20:56 PM »

As a little bit of background, I turned 47 this year.  It has been the most challenging year of my life.  Job stress, no intimacy at all in marriage, and some physical ailments.  My financial state is also of concern, due to all the debt my BPD wife has accumulated over the years.  Yet, none of this seems to bother her, she is just having fun and enjoying life.

I have slowly realized that I spent my life trying to prove myself to others.  If someone doubted me in something, I immediately had to set out to prove them wrong, whether it was something I truly cared about or not.

I have come to the understanding that my life has been a waste.  I've had very little fun, overworked myself, and I have had very few people in my life that seem to truly care about me.

I understand how these patterns started in my childhood.  My BPD bully dad always criticized my efforts for everything.  He criticized my appearance, my physical stature, my intelligence, and my mental health.  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)  This lead me to try to prove him wrong all of the time.  Yet, he was never satisfied with anything I did.

I will also make note that, he never told me that I was okay the way I was.  Nobody had told me that, until I was at a conference for work and they did a personality assessment on me.  It was the first time I realized that maybe I didn't have to prove myself or impress others.

So, at 47, I'm trying to build a house with a stone foundation as opposed to the one made of straw that I have lived in my whole life.  It is tough. 

First off, I am lonely.  I think my wife is denying me just to wear me down and I throw in the towel on the marriage.

I am really trying to get into better shape.

I am adjusting my eating habits.

Lastly, I'm trying to get better sleep, but I always seemed to get woken up every night by the family dogs or something.

It's just a frustrating experience.

Have any of you found yourselves constantly trying to prove yourself, only to end up in a house made of straw?
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EaglesJuju
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2014, 06:41:09 PM »

I applaud you for taking the first step in changing behaviors that you have had for your entire life.  I know it is hard to change something that you have been accustomed to for a very long time.  As clichĂ© as it sounds, I learned you do not have to impress or prove yourself to anyone. The only person you need to impress is yourself.

I know it is hard to see, but you have made some significant progress.  You are trying to improve your health by eating healthier, exercising, and getting more sleep.  One of those resolutions are hard but, you are making progress on three, which you should be very proud of.   Although you were tenacious and determined to prove people wrong, it really says a lot about your character; you never give up. You are still displaying that quality by wanting to change your behavior.  It is hard and frustrating but, try to look at the progress you have made so far.   
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"In order to take control of our lives and accomplish something of lasting value, sooner or later we need to Believe. We simply need to believe in the power that is within us, and use it." -Benjamin Hoff
parisian
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2014, 06:41:48 PM »

I have come to the understanding that my life has been a waste. 

I will also make note that, he never told me that I was okay the way I was.   end up in a house made of straw?

Hi workinprogress, it's great that you have got to this point and want to improve things - better that you did so now rather than when you were much older. Still lots of time to build your house of stone Smiling (click to insert in post). There will be some great lessons to take from your life so far too.

A couple of relevant quotes come to mind:

'Let me live my life as I want, for at its end it is I who must die.'

'What other people think of you is none of your business'

I too struggled earlier in my life with living my life trying to please parents. Now I just say if they don't have something pleasant to say, then I'd prefer them not to say anything at all or that I appreciate that is their opinion however as an adult, I will do with my life as I choose. I appreciate they might not agree with my choices or actions, but they got to make their own choices about their lives, so I will do the same thanks Smiling (click to insert in post). Some of the tools on here are good for that.

Health is the best place to start. As you've pointed out, better eating habits, regular exercise and good sleep (have you tried ear plugs for sleeping or think about putting the dogs in a laundry at night?) - taking care of ourselves is always the first and best step.

Also, try some daily meditation - just 10 minutes each day will make a difference - there are some good ones on Youtube.

Perhaps google some websites that will lead you through some life prioritising questions - things like what is important to you, what makes you happy. You can perhaps give yourself a score out of ten (based on how YOU feel those things are at), across a number of life 'headings' such as Finances, Relationships, Health, Fun, Spirituality. List some steps you would like to take to get some improvement in those or to achieve the things YOU want to do, and put a plan in place for action. If you are taking baby steps towards those things, even after just a month, you will start to see and feel an improvement. Also if you're working on improving yourself, it keeps you busy, focused and helps stop the loneliness. Perhaps one of your 'headings' is 'Friends' and look for an activity you can do socially that might increase your friendship base to also help with the feeling of loneliness. Under 'Relationships', perhaps look at the tools on this board.

If you focus on you first, it will make the difficulties in the relationship a little easier to deal with - you are making you a priority and living your life as you like.
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workinprogress
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2014, 09:32:21 PM »

Thanks so much Eagles and Parisian.  I appreciate the kind words.

The hardest task I face is figuring out what I really want.  I've allowed everyone else in my life to smother my dreams.

I will follow your suggestion on the lists, that sounds like a good place to start!

Parisian, I have made a great effort to teach my kids that their lives are their lives.  They need to do what they want and not worry about what other people think.  I tell them that I am proud of them and love them regardless of what they do.  I think this have given them some inner security to live out their dreams.  One of my kids actually went overseas to study abroad this year!

I have to start following my own advice.

Thanks again!
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parisian
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2014, 10:05:50 PM »

The hardest task I face is figuring out what I really want.  I've allowed everyone else in my life to smother my dreams.

Parisian, I have made a great effort to teach my kids that their lives are their lives.  They need to do what they want and not worry about what other people think.  I tell them that I am proud of them and love them regardless of what they do.  I think this have given them some inner security to live out their dreams.  One of my kids actually went overseas to study abroad this year!

Maybe as a start, think about what is was you loved to do as a kid or teenager? Playing or learning music? Some type of sport? Some interest or hobby, or research topics you find interesting you and want to know more about. Or else pick something really random that will be a challenge, and have a go at that (like learning a language or riding a skateboard Smiling (click to insert in post)). You've obviously got the persistence and motivation to follow through on things you thought you had to do for others, so use those awesome powers for your own good Smiling (click to insert in post)

It's also great you have given your kids that comfort. That's well done.

And yep, now you just need to give yourself permission to follow your own advice  Smiling (click to insert in post). You can do it 
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Ziggiddy
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 06:26:28 AM »

Hi workinprogress

i fully relate to your feeling of needing to explain yourself. Prove yourself. I really believe it is rooted in repetition compulsion. We may not actually like or enjoy what we are doing but we feel the need to do it - compelled as it were.

My OCPD/NPD father spends his whole life doing this so i imagine i have picked up some of it from having it role modelled but I also know how my uBPD/NPD mother would constantly demand explanations for everything all the time.

I believe the need comes from a complete lack of validation as well as an atmosphere of alternating criticism and neglect.

Perhaps you were constantly criticised when you got things wrong? Or got approval only when you got things right? When that happens, we link our self worth with what we DO rather than who we ARE. If the only attention we get is based on being as perfect as possible, no wonder we strive to attain that, never understanding that once we reach the 'perfect' level, they will raise the bar. Mostly because they are never EVER going to give due praise that makes sense or is attached reasonably to yourself.

As far as your dad's criticism goes he was likely projecting. Another reason that he can't ever give you praise - he doesn't understand what it is nor is he likely to feel what it means to you to be bullied and put down and not hear approving words.

How you would have internalised and believed that constant criticism until it blended in with your own voice and you started to believe it WAS your own voice. But it's not. And deep down you probably know that.

Something I have found very helpful (although I acknowledge I am also struggling with the same things as you) is reading about the effects of emotional neglect. Really feeling what you have missed out on by the terrible environment you were in as a child.

It's especially effective if you can imagine yourself in the 3rd person as emotionally neglected children often do not have access to any real self pity. if you imagine it by seeing yourself going through what you did from the outside, you might be able to feel that compassion for yourself that is so latent. That may well be driving your need to prove yourself.

It can be a form of avoidance to focus on the 'symptom' and address the details (eating well, sleeping well etc) Are you comfortable with the idea of looking at yourself with compassion workinprogress? Can you see how scared you must have been? how worn down? how demanded of? And quite wrongly for you were just a little kid doing what little kids do.

How impressionable you were - how your father (and mother) had the duty to make you feel loved and cherished and valuable for all you are.  How miserably they failed to do so.

It's not your fault, work. it's really not. By placing the blame exactly where it belongs you may lessen the burden you have of compulsively trying to be better, do better get approval from a source that is a dry well.

And just one final thing - can you wear earplugs to deal with the dogs? I also used to spray my windows with spray oil and stick alfoil to them to stop the light getting in. plus I wear an eyemask! it REALLY helps.

Peace

Ziggiddy

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Forestaken
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Relationship status: Divorced
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 02:17:47 PM »

Yes, I divorced my uBPD+dOCD+ Xw

I found even with alimony and my S's college rent, I am saving money (WTH, right?)  paying off credit card debts, etc.

I spent money in exchange for peace.  A lot of money
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workinprogress
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2014, 05:46:06 PM »

The hardest task I face is figuring out what I really want.  I've allowed everyone else in my life to smother my dreams.

Parisian, I have made a great effort to teach my kids that their lives are their lives.  They need to do what they want and not worry about what other people think.  I tell them that I am proud of them and love them regardless of what they do.  I think this have given them some inner security to live out their dreams.  One of my kids actually went overseas to study abroad this year!

Maybe as a start, think about what is was you loved to do as a kid or teenager? Playing or learning music? Some type of sport? Some interest or hobby, or research topics you find interesting you and want to know more about. Or else pick something really random that will be a challenge, and have a go at that (like learning a language or riding a skateboard Smiling (click to insert in post)). You've obviously got the persistence and motivation to follow through on things you thought you had to do for others, so use those awesome powers for your own good Smiling (click to insert in post)

It's also great you have given your kids that comfort. That's well done.

And yep, now you just need to give yourself permission to follow your own advice  Smiling (click to insert in post). You can do it 

You know, it's weird, as a kid I loved to study.  I loved words.  I would research words and their origins.  One of my most vivid childhood memories was of me reading a very old dictionary that I had and I was rapped up in reading the words and their history and my dad interrupting me to go to basketball practice.  I hated playing sports!  I was athletic, but I hated organized sports.  I was forced to play every single one of them.  I was miserable.  Every play I made was critiqued.  I felt like I had a constant monitor over me every second of the day.

I also used to make up movies and stories.

I have tinkered with writing over the years, but as of yet, it really isn't for me.

But, the thought of going into some type of medical research has been crossing my mind.  I will look into that more this weekend.
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workinprogress
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Posts: 548


« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2014, 05:50:29 PM »

Hi workinprogress

i fully relate to your feeling of needing to explain yourself. Prove yourself. I really believe it is rooted in repetition compulsion. We may not actually like or enjoy what we are doing but we feel the need to do it - compelled as it were.

My OCPD/NPD father spends his whole life doing this so i imagine i have picked up some of it from having it role modelled but I also know how my uBPD/NPD mother would constantly demand explanations for everything all the time.

I believe the need comes from a complete lack of validation as well as an atmosphere of alternating criticism and neglect.

Perhaps you were constantly criticised when you got things wrong? Or got approval only when you got things right? When that happens, we link our self worth with what we DO rather than who we ARE. If the only attention we get is based on being as perfect as possible, no wonder we strive to attain that, never understanding that once we reach the 'perfect' level, they will raise the bar. Mostly because they are never EVER going to give due praise that makes sense or is attached reasonably to yourself.

As far as your dad's criticism goes he was likely projecting. Another reason that he can't ever give you praise - he doesn't understand what it is nor is he likely to feel what it means to you to be bullied and put down and not hear approving words.

How you would have internalised and believed that constant criticism until it blended in with your own voice and you started to believe it WAS your own voice. But it's not. And deep down you probably know that.

Something I have found very helpful (although I acknowledge I am also struggling with the same things as you) is reading about the effects of emotional neglect. Really feeling what you have missed out on by the terrible environment you were in as a child.

It's especially effective if you can imagine yourself in the 3rd person as emotionally neglected children often do not have access to any real self pity. if you imagine it by seeing yourself going through what you did from the outside, you might be able to feel that compassion for yourself that is so latent. That may well be driving your need to prove yourself.

It can be a form of avoidance to focus on the 'symptom' and address the details (eating well, sleeping well etc) Are you comfortable with the idea of looking at yourself with compassion workinprogress? Can you see how scared you must have been? how worn down? how demanded of? And quite wrongly for you were just a little kid doing what little kids do.

How impressionable you were - how your father (and mother) had the duty to make you feel loved and cherished and valuable for all you are.  How miserably they failed to do so.

It's not your fault, work. it's really not. By placing the blame exactly where it belongs you may lessen the burden you have of compulsively trying to be better, do better get approval from a source that is a dry well.

And just one final thing - can you wear earplugs to deal with the dogs? I also used to spray my windows with spray oil and stick alfoil to them to stop the light getting in. plus I wear an eyemask! it REALLY helps.

Peace

Ziggiddy

I appreciate all the advice Ziggiddy! 

The situation with the dogs is that they want to go outside at night to pee.  For some reason I am the one they come to when they want out.  I guess even dogs can spot a caretaker, Laugh out loud (click to insert in post).

I really appreciate what you said about it not being my fault.  I have carried such a heavy burden in life, feeling responsible for my parents physical and emotional well-being, being responsible for my family's financial well-being, and being responsible for everything for my wife.  It is too much to carry.

Another thing that gets me down is seeing my wife.  I would really like to be with her sexually.  She has had very little interest in the last 16 years, but she denies it.  She told me that we "messed around" all the time.  That's just not true.

Again, thanks for the input.
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workinprogress
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2014, 05:52:44 PM »

Yes, I divorced my uBPD+dOCD+ Xw

I found even with alimony and my S's college rent, I am saving money (WTH, right?)  paying off credit card debts, etc.

I spent money in exchange for peace.  A lot of money

This thought has really been crossing my mind lately.  I've been thinking that after the first of the year I may make my move. 

I am concerned about how this will impact my kids.  I really want to keep my family together, but it is wearing me down.

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maternal
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« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2014, 03:12:15 PM »

I am this. 

Though I'm still working through where it comes from.  I don't feel as though it's completely from my parents.  I grew up with heaping helping of boys, and being the only girl, I had to keep up if I wanted to play.  There was no hand holding or waiting for me, if I wanted to have someone to play with, I had to prove that I could hang.  This is also probably why I don't or have such trouble asking for help... .

I also have this great sense of obligation to others.  I always want to help and be there for folks.  I can't help it.
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Grey Kitty
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Relationship status: Separated
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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2014, 07:44:43 PM »

The hardest task I face is figuring out what I really want.  I've allowed everyone else in my life to smother my dreams.

This thought has really been crossing my mind lately.  I've been thinking that after the first of the year I may make my move. 

I am concerned about how this will impact my kids.  I really want to keep my family together, but it is wearing me down.

I think if you work on the part you mentioned a couple days earlier (figuring out what you want), that will tell you want move you want to make. I'd recommend you start adding things that you do value to your life, things which you can do whether you stay married or not. After making some changes like that, re-evaluate whether you need to make further changes in your marriage (or end it!).

I say this from the perspective of a guy who just realized (at age 47!) that I've not made the big choices in my life as to what is important to me as active choices based on my values or my desires... .for the entire 20+ years I've been married. Instead I've pretty much let my wife make the choices, and either followed along doing what she wanted... .or refused to do things that I absolutely didn't want to do.

And this part about making my own choices is very hard. Fortunately for me, I've got some months of physical separation from my wife, so I'm in a good position to actually do things based on my own choices. It is pretty amazing. It is also weird--often I don't really want to choose. Sometimes I do choose, then later realize that I would have preferred a different choice. Strangely it is still good for me, even those times. I started a topic on the staying board about this, and at the time debated with myself whether to post it here or there. Jump over and read it if you are interested.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=236486.0;all
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Forestaken
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2014, 07:06:22 AM »

Yes, I divorced my uBPD+dOCD+ Xw

I found even with alimony and my S's college rent, I am saving money (WTH, right?)  paying off credit card debts, etc.

I spent money in exchange for peace.  A lot of money

This thought has really been crossing my mind lately.  I've been thinking that after the first of the year I may make my move. 

I am concerned about how this will impact my kids.  I really want to keep my family together, but it is wearing me down.

I thought like you, and I was surprised how much my kids supported me through the divorce.  To this day, they have been behind me 100%.  They have NC with their momster.  We've had the opportunities to do things that we couldn't do with her.

My kids are happier now.
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