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Author Topic: 4.03 | Emotional or covert incest: discussing it and healing from it  (Read 10313 times)
Kwamina
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« on: April 06, 2015, 02:08:29 AM »

Hi

Emotional or covert incest is something many people often find difficult to discuss. We have an article on this site about this subject, here's an excerpt:

Excerpt
The term "emotional incest" was coined by Kenneth Adams, Ph.D. to label the state of cross-generational bonding within a family, whereby a child (normally of the opposite sex) becomes a surrogate spouse for their mother or father. "Emotional Enmeshment" is another term often used.

In emotionally incestuous relationships the parents find it very difficult to respect certain boundaries with their children:

Excerpt
Emotional incest happens when the natural boundary between parental caregiver, nurturer, and protector is crossed and the child becomes the defacto caregiver, nurturer and protector of the parent. This typically occurs when a the marriage unravels or when there is a broken family dynamic (e.g., substance abuse, infidelity, mental illness) and the dependency upon a child increases.

To explore the concept of emotional or covert incest and how to heal from it, it can be helpful to ask ourselves some questions:

1. Was emotional or covert incest something you had to deal with as a child? If it was, who was doing this to you and when did it start? Did it continue into your adult life?

2. In what ways did you feel the way one or both of your parents treated you was 'emotionally incestuous'? How did this behavior make you feel when you were a child? Have you been able to set and enforce boundaries with your parents to protect yourself from further emotionally incestuous behaviors?

3. Do you feel like the emotional incest has affected you in your adult life? If it has, in what ways? Have you managed to find ways to counteract the negative effects from the emotional incest?

4. How does using the term 'incest' to describe your experiences of emotional violation make you feel? Do you find 'incest' an appropriate label?

I am very interested in any thoughts or reflections you might have on the concept of emotional or covert incest. Thanks in advance for any experiences and insights you are able to share.
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schwing
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2015, 11:50:52 AM »

Hi Kwamina,

I will share my thoughts.

1. Was emotional or covert incest something you had to deal with as a child? If it was, who was doing this to you and when did it start?

I'm fairly certain I've had to deal with covert incest in my family of origin.  Primarily it was with my mother who I believe has BPD (she is undiagnosed).  The primary manifestation was my mother made it our (all of my siblings experienced this to some degree) responsibility to look after her emotional wellbeing.

There were times I, as a child, served as her untrained therapist.  She would tell me of how she believed my father would threaten to abandon us (the typical BPD abandonment anxiety).  She would be the consummate victim, telling me of all the woes of her life.  One end result was that I was largely focused on making sure my mother was doing ok or else it would seem like my family could all apart.

Did it continue into your adult life?

As an adult, this happens less consistently.  But it still happens.  There was one period when I was just out of college that I thought it would be a good idea to exercise with my mother in the mornings (in an adult swimming group) and that got out of hand.  She actually treated me how I imagine she would with my father: demanded I'd adhere to her strict and rigid schedule; she would harass me on occasions I wanted to sleep in or skip work out.  It was either do it her way or not-at-all, and after less than a month, it was not-at-all.  I just remember being so upset at her in the aftermath that I scolded my father, telling him that he is her husband not I, and that he should be attending to her.  At least that's how I remember it.

Thinking of this incident, and what I learned of my parent's dynamic from this experience, it is one of the few times in which I am thankful that my father is a narcissist (undiagnosed).  I imagine, he is for the most part less sensitive, or insensitive, to her emotional dysregulation.  I remember her behavior as making me feel crazy.  I can only guess at how bad it must have been when I was a child.

The way in which I try to manage my relationship with my mother currently is to see her as a patient that has impaired maturity and judgement.  When my interaction with her is more formal and distant, I feel more protected from her emotional dysregulation. 

2. In what ways did you feel the way one or both of your parents treated you was 'emotionally incestuous'? How did this behavior make you feel when you were a child?

I think the big effect my mother's behavior had on me was to stunt my own emotional self-awareness.  I grew up far more attentive to her emotions than my own.  I learned to set aside my own emotional needs ahead of my mother's.  And this kind of interaction carried over into my attachments as a young adult.

One big distortion I grew up with was this idea that I didn't take care of my own emotions, I just needed to find someone to take care of them -- because I was used to the idea of my taking care of someone else's who seemed incapable of taking care of herself.  Kind of a co-dependency dynamic.

3. Do you feel like the emotional incest has affected you in your adult life? If it has, in what ways? Have you managed to find ways to counteract the negative effects from the emotional incest?

The biggest affect the covert incest has on my adult life is in how I have selected partners.  For many years (decades really) I kept selecting women who were incapable of healthy intimacy and who in many ways relied on me to take care of them -- or who would lead me to believe that they were helpless to take care of themselves.  Because of my relationship with my mother as a child, this was the dynamic that felt "right" emotionally, even though intellectually, I was clearly miserable in these situations.  It took me a long time to throw out this mode of selecting partners.

4. How does using the term 'incest' to describe your experiences of emotional violation make you feel? Do you find 'incest' an appropriate label?

I think incest is the appropriate label.  But just like people who have had overt incest, people who have had covert incest have many layers of denial to break through before they can accept it and face it.  It is better to allow people to decide for themselves how much of their own abuse they are willing or able to face.  Calling it as it is, sometimes doesn't serve the person you are trying to help.

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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2015, 12:11:31 PM »

1. Was emotional or covert incest something you had to deal with as a child? If it was, who was doing this to you and when did it start? Did it continue into your adult life?

Yes. It came from my mom and started when I was maybe eight or nine years old and worsened through my high school and college years. It did continue into my adult life and would still continue if I didn't maintain firm boundaries against it.

2. In what ways did you feel the way one or both of your parents treated you was 'emotionally incestuous'? How did this behavior make you feel when you were a child? Have you been able to set and enforce boundaries with your parents to protect yourself from further emotionally incestuous behaviors?

I remember events like the time I had spent a week away in another state with family friends. The rest of my family came at the end of the week, and as we were sitting down to dinner, I sat in the empty chair next to the place my father was sitting. My mother patted the empty chair on the other side of her seat and asked me to come sit there instead. When I said I wanted to sit where I was, she burst into tears (in front of our hosts) and ran upstairs to the guest room. I was left to follow her and comfort her for half an hour, that yes I did love her and miss her and didn't love my dad MORE than her, and apologize for hurting her feelings.

This kind of thing happened frequently. She would also vent to me about my father's failings, talk to me about how he wouldn't have sex with her as often as she wanted, and cuddle me (not in an overtly sexual manner) to make up for what she was wanted from him. It always felt weird; she wanted my dad, but very obviously used me as a substitute for him. I resented this as a kid even though I had no way of rationally knowing what was happening.

Once, the summer after I graduated high school, my mother was pressing me to let her into my thoughts as we took a walk one day. So I tried to tell her how confused I felt as a child when she spent so much money and time on trying to get pregnant again even though she had three kids already. How her sadness and staying in bed over the issue gave me cause to feel that her kids were no longer as satisfying once they weren't babies any more. This conversation did not go well - she told me I could never understand until I was a mom and that I was cruel to bring it all up. This ended, as did so many others, with her rushing off to cry in her bed, and me expected to follow, cuddle with her there, and make it all better.

There are many, many other examples I could give of different variations on these themes.

When I was college aged I began to feel the need for boundaries, and by my late twenties had hesitantly begun placing and enforcing them. Telling my mom that I was not comfortable with her discussing my father's behavior - good or bad - with me. Telling her that I was no longer able to discuss finances - mine or hers - with her. Putting an end to conversations that veered into unhealthy emotional support-sucking in other topic areas. No longer apologizing for things she took in a way no rationally-thinking person would.

3. Do you feel like the emotional incest has affected you in your adult life? If it has, in what ways? Have you managed to find ways to counteract the negative effects from the emotional incest?

It has made me hypersensitive to emotionality in my friends who are young moms. I have to restrain myself from commenting on Facebook when a friend posts something like "No matter how much they grow up, they will always be my tiny babies" or gushing over their "little man" who made a cute comment about being "Mommy's boyfriend." I have to recognize that there is a level of this kind of talk that is not necessarily enmeshed/incestuous, and that I don't need to jump all over anyone for it; but I've also had to break casual contact with some people who did it a lot, because I was triggered all the time by it.

4. How does using the term 'incest' to describe your experiences of emotional violation make you feel? Do you find 'incest' an appropriate label?

It's a little strange for me, because I am a women who was her mother's husband-substitute and so don't fit the cross-gender tendency here - but I am the only one of my siblings who matches my dad in temperament, and I am the eldest, so the caregiver/authority thing makes sense as to why I was chosen by mom. But yes, I do think "incest" is an appropriate label. It gives me validation for the disgusting, shameful feeling I had from my involvement with my mom's behavior. I identify strongly with the stories I hear of people who experienced sexual incest/molestation; the mixture of empowerment and victimhood they describe, the trap they felt caught in, the complicit nature of continuing to give in to behaviors they did not really want to give in to. And while I in no way want to lessen their tragedy, it is freeing to have the "permission" given by the emotional incest label to recognize the severity of the abuse I endured as well.
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Kwamina
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 07:07:59 AM »

Hi schwing and claudiaduffy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

I just remember being so upset at her in the aftermath that I scolded my father, telling him that he is her husband not I, and that he should be attending to her.  At least that's how I remember it.

How did your dad respond to you telling him this? Has your father ever commented about the way your mother treated you?

The way in which I try to manage my relationship with my mother currently is to see her as a patient that has impaired maturity and judgement.  When my interaction with her is more formal and distant, I feel more protected from her emotional dysregulation.  

This is very similar to how I view my own uBPD mother now. Before I learned about BPD I'd try to reason with her because even after all I'd been through, I still viewed her as a 'rational' human being and had the hope of being able to get through to her. Now this hope has been replaced by a more realistic hope based on her limitations due to her uBPD. I for instance now never discuss anything that's really important to me with my mother. How does your mother react to you when your behavior towards her is more formal and distant?

The biggest affect the covert incest has on my adult life is in how I have selected partners.  For many years (decades really) I kept selecting women who were incapable of healthy intimacy and who in many ways relied on me to take care of them -- or who would lead me to believe that they were helpless to take care of themselves.  Because of my relationship with my mother as a child, this was the dynamic that felt "right" emotionally, even though intellectually, I was clearly miserable in these situations.  It took me a long time to throw out this mode of selecting partners.

Considering how your mother treated you, I can definitely see how this could affect you in this way. I am glad though that you've been able to identify this dynamic. How did you reach this point of insight? Was it like a slow but steady process or a sudden light-bulb moment? How were you able to throw this mode of selecting partners out?

I think incest is the appropriate label.  But just like people who have had overt incest, people who have had covert incest have many layers of denial to break through before they can accept it and face it.  It is better to allow people to decide for themselves how much of their own abuse they are willing or able to face.  Calling it as it is, sometimes doesn't serve the person you are trying to help.

I agree with what you say here. Everybody deals with things differently and this is something that should be taken into account when discussing things with them. Words can be very powerful, especially 'loaded' terms such as incest.
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2015, 07:31:52 AM »

Now to claudiaduffy!

I remember events like the time I had spent a week away in another state with family friends. The rest of my family came at the end of the week, and as we were sitting down to dinner, I sat in the empty chair next to the place my father was sitting. My mother patted the empty chair on the other side of her seat and asked me to come sit there instead. When I said I wanted to sit where I was, she burst into tears (in front of our hosts) and ran upstairs to the guest room. I was left to follow her and comfort her for half an hour, that yes I did love her and miss her and didn't love my dad MORE than her, and apologize for hurting her feelings.

Dealing with these kinds of things is very hard for a child. This is a total role reversal, instead of your mother taking care of you, you were made to take care of her. I can imagine that this could cause you to feel responsible for her feelings and perhaps also of other people's feelings? Would you say that this has been an issue for you?

I'm also very curious about how your other family-members reacted to your mother behaving this way. Did anyone come to comfort you (while you were comforting your mother)?

This kind of thing happened frequently. She would also vent to me about my father's failings, talk to me about how he wouldn't have sex with her as often as she wanted, and cuddle me (not in an overtly sexual manner) to make up for what she was wanted from him. It always felt weird; she wanted my dad, but very obviously used me as a substitute for him. I resented this as a kid even though I had no way of rationally knowing what was happening.  

This was very inappropriate of her indeed. I understand why you would resent this as a kid, even if you don't know exactly what's going on as a kid you often can still sense that somethings is 'off'. Did this behavior of your mother also start when you were 8/9 years old?

When I was college aged I began to feel the need for boundaries, and by my late twenties had hesitantly begun placing and enforcing them. Telling my mom that I was not comfortable with her discussing my father's behavior - good or bad - with me. Telling her that I was no longer able to discuss finances - mine or hers - with her. Putting an end to conversations that veered into unhealthy emotional support-sucking in other topic areas. No longer apologizing for things she took in a way no rationally-thinking person would.

How did your mother react to you setting boundaries back then? Did she respect them?

I have to recognize that there is a level of this kind of talk that is not necessarily enmeshed/incestuous, and that I don't need to jump all over anyone for it; but I've also had to break casual contact with some people who did it a lot, because I was triggered all the time by it.  

Being able to recognize your own triggers is already a very important step forward Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) It's unfortunate though that this has caused you to break contact with people who did this a lot. Looking back now, do you feel like the people you broke contact with were actually behaving inappropriately or was it more that you were hypersensitive as a result of your own experiences? Both could be true because even though your experiences have made you hypersensitive to certain things, this hypersensitivity can sometimes also be a good thing for screening people who actually have certain issues

But yes, I do think "incest" is an appropriate label. It gives me validation for the disgusting, shameful feeling I had from my involvement with my mom's behavior. I identify strongly with the stories I hear of people who experienced sexual incest/molestation; the mixture of empowerment and victimhood they describe, the trap they felt caught in, the complicit nature of continuing to give in to behaviors they did not really want to give in to. And while I in no way want to lessen their tragedy, it is freeing to have the "permission" given by the emotional incest label to recognize the severity of the abuse I endured as well.

These are all very unfortunate consequences of being abused by one's own parent. I can relate to your sense of feeling free as a result of being able to use the term incest to describe the abuse you were subjected to. In one of your other posts you described 'emotional incest' as 'molesting of the mind' and to me that really goes to the core of what it's about here.

Do you feel like you've been able to counteract the feelings of disgust and shame caused by this form of abuse?
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2015, 11:12:16 AM »

This is a total role reversal, instead of your mother taking care of you, you were made to take care of her. I can imagine that this could cause you to feel responsible for her feelings and perhaps also of other people's feelings? Would you say that this has been an issue for you?

Somewhat, yes. Fortunately, I've always had a very strong sense of justice and a high opinion of myself  Smiling (click to insert in post) and that helped me even as a young teen who couldn't help but see that her mother was wrong in the head and that it wasn't actually my fault. I would say that, rather than feeling that it was my *responsibility* to care for others' feelings, I mistakenly felt that since I was a more stable, positive person, that I could and had the right to manage peoples' feelings so that we could all have a smoother, happier life. Because of some good counseling - and the help of a couple of angry outbursts from people I tried to manage - I started kicking that line of thought out of my brain in my early 20s.

I'm also very curious about how your other family-members reacted to your mother behaving this way. Did anyone come to comfort you (while you were comforting your mother)?

Not that time, IIRC. My dad and the family we were visiting (not relatives; old college friends of my parents' continued with the meal downstairs. Other times my mom pulled the same stunt, my little sister would follow and try to help me. She is still pretty enmeshed with my mom, though she will acknowledge that my mom's got something off in the way she handles life.

She would also vent to me about my father's failings, talk to me about how he wouldn't have sex with her as often as she wanted, and cuddle me (not in an overtly sexual manner) to make up for what she was wanted from him. It always felt weird; she wanted my dad, but very obviously used me as a substitute for him.

Did this behavior of your mother also start when you were 8/9 years old?

No. The complaining about my dad started when I was a preteen, and the TMI about her sex life wasn't until I was in my mid-late teens and college years. Related to that, my mom often made jokes or comments that highlighted the fact that she was an adult and I wasn't, pointing out that I wouldn't understand until I was older and/or married. For example, just making conversation in a car ride one day, I asked my mom and sister to list their favorite sensations - expecting answers like "a cool breeze on my hair" or "running my hand lightly over sleeping baby chickens." My mom said, with an amused look, "Well, my FAVORITE sensation isn't one I can tell you about yet." I was maybe 11 or so, old enough to pick up that she was talking about something sexual and be a little embarrassed by it, but also old enough to be irritated that she'd even bring it up if it was truly something she "couldn't tell us about yet." The duality of the way my mother treated me - as simultaneously way too old and way too young - is another topic I won't start ranting about here, but this is one example of it.

When I was college aged I began to feel the need for boundaries, and by my late twenties had hesitantly begun placing and enforcing them.

How did your mother react to you setting boundaries back then? Did she respect them?

She was taken aback at the confrontive boundaries, and went through (and still goes through) cycles of being offended by them, not mentioning them but not pushing them (I guess that counts as respecting them?), then pushing them again until I have to re-assert them. The boundaries that I don't state - the ones on my OWN behavior that I've made =) - bother her, because she doesn't know why they're there. She can tell that I don't open up to her about some important things in my life, but I don't respond to her requests that I do so. So I heard back then, and still hear now, lots of sighing along the lines of "I wish we were closer."

I have to recognize that there is a level of this kind of talk that is not necessarily enmeshed/incestuous, and that I don't need to jump all over anyone for it; but I've also had to break casual contact with some people who did it a lot, because I was triggered all the time by it.  

Being able to recognize your own triggers is already a very important step forward Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) It's unfortunate though that this has caused you to break contact with people who did this a lot. Looking back now, do you feel like the people you broke contact with were actually behaving inappropriately or was it more that you were hypersensitive as a result of your own experiences? Both could be true because even though your experiences have made you hypersensitive to certain things, this hypersensitivity can sometimes also be a good thing for screening people who actually have certain issues

Both are DEFINITELY true, haha! I do think disordered behavior occurs along a spectrum. People can say or do emotionally unhealthy things without being an overall toxic, unhealthy person. The people I cut out were not people that were close to me (though one or two of them might disagree); it's mostly old co-workers, the moms of some of my college friends, a few church acquaintances, et cetera. One or two of them I think need counseling and are probably at least lightly disordered. Five or six of them I think could stand some readjustments in their thinking by having to have a close look at how unhealthy their statements sound and how there are strains of imbalanced thinking that they too-frequently indulge in. The rest - I think they're mostly just people wired to be more nostalgic than I am. Just today I saw a comment from a friend on a photo of her child who has lost a tooth. "Stay little forever!" - an innocent enough comment, and the type of thing that I have to make myself realize is a momentary expression of the mix of delight in a child and grief at their gradual departure from that first super-close bond that healthy moms and kids have. This mom doesn't actually want her kid to never grow up and never leave her. She's not prone to making statements like this constantly. The people who really trigger me are the ones who seem to live in a constant state of wanting to keep their kids or grandkids tiny, cute, and dependent.

But yes, I do think "incest" is an appropriate label. It gives me validation for the disgusting, shameful feeling I had from my involvement with my mom's behavior... .

These are all very unfortunate consequences of being abused by one's own parent. I can relate to your sense of feeling free as a result of being able to use the term incest to describe the abuse you were subjected to. In one of your other posts you described 'emotional incest' as 'molesting of the mind' and to me that really goes to the core of what it's about here.

Do you feel like you've been able to counteract the feelings of disgust and shame caused by this form of abuse?

Yes, I do! Lots of good counseling, good friendships, good modeling of healthy parenting from some of my friends' parents, good reading (I'm in the middle of Madeleine L'Engle's "The Summer of the Great-Grandmother" and it's helping me significantly; it's the story of the gradual death of her mother, with whom she had a close relationship) - all these things are really helpful and healing. And this forum, of course. =)

I have had to forgive myself (not super hard for me; like I said, I have always had that strong justice/self esteem thing going on) for enduring/participating for so long in the stupid toxic cycles, and a lot of forgiving of the entire world for not helping me as a kid (yes, it's the entire world's fault!  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) ), but I no longer feel shame or even much disgust over the things that happened to me. I do feel sad when I think back on it, and I do feel disgust at a lesser degree as I see my two younger siblings still stuck in these cycles with my mom and unwilling to break them even though I've tried to show them how they're participating in their own hurt - but those are their own stories, their own processes, and they are adults and I can not and should not force my story on them.

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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2015, 12:17:38 PM »

Hi again claudiaduffy

A lot of what you've said in your two posts here really illustrates what Patricia Love has said about emotional incest:

Excerpt
Patricia Love, Ed.D., past president of the International Association for Marriage and Family Counseling, defines emotional incest as "a style of parenting in which parents turn to their children, not to their partners, for emotional support."

... .

According to Dr. Love, "Being a parent's primary source of support is a heavy burden for young children as they are forced to suppress their own needs to satisfy the needs of the adults". Because of this role reversal, they are rarely given adequate protection, guidance, or discipline, and they are exposed to experiences well beyond their years.

I've highlighted the last part because it's very relevant to the point you make about when your mom was talking about her favorite sensation. Even without explicitly naming the sensation she was talking about, it was still clear to the 11 year old you that it was something sexual.

I am glad you have found ways to better deal with your mother and set boundaries with her and also heal from the inner wounds all of this has caused you. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights! Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)  Smiling (click to insert in post)

In the article we have on this site about emotional incest, we reference Debra L. Kaplan who specializes in emotional incest recovery. I'm quoting a part of the article here that is of particular relevance for anyone trying to heal from this form of abuse:

Excerpt
According to Debra L. Kaplan, MA, LPC, an intensive out-patient counselor specializing in emotional incest recovery, the process of recovery is five-fold:



  • Identify the family of origin and the particular family dynamics involved


  • Recognize any patterns of emotional incest between caregivers and the abused individual


  • Learn to set boundaries with that parent


  • Acknowledge any feelings of abandonment as a result of the emotional incest


  • Work toward individuation and separation by learning to reparent the self (Inner child work)


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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 01:11:12 AM »

How did your dad respond to you telling him this? Has your father ever commented about the way your mother treated you?

If I recall correctly, his reaction was muted.  Perhaps he was slightly shamed.  He didn't react very emotionally.  In general my father has keep his emotions very close to him and is not very expressive at all.

I don't think my father has every commented on how my mother has treated me, expect to point out how she has sacrificed for me over the year, primarily when I was an infant and toddler.  Never mind that the sacrifices she has had to make for me, she was forced to do so because he was never available to make such sacrifices: such as spending time with me, helping with some of my schooling, taking me to the doctors when I was sick.


The way in which I try to manage my relationship with my mother currently is to see her as a patient that has impaired maturity and judgement.  When my interaction with her is more formal and distant, I feel more protected from her emotional dysregulation.  

This is very similar to how I view my own uBPD mother now. Before I learned about BPD I'd try to reason with her because even after all I'd been through, I still viewed her as a 'rational' human being and had the hope of being able to get through to her. Now this hope has been replaced by a more realistic hope based on her limitations due to her uBPD. I for instance now never discuss anything that's really important to me with my mother. How does your mother react to you when your behavior towards her is more formal and distant?

My mother reacts more predictably when I am more formal and distant.  Now that I think about it, what is more important than formal and distant is predictability.  I find that when I speak to her consistently... .not too often, but consistently, this also makes me less likely the target of her disregulations.  I'd much rather hear her complain about my siblings or my father than to be recipient of her criticisms and jabs.

And the more formal and distant I am with her, the less material I give her with which she can use against me.


The biggest affect the covert incest has on my adult life is in how I have selected partners.  For many years (decades really) I kept selecting women who were incapable of healthy intimacy and who in many ways relied on me to take care of them -- or who would lead me to believe that they were helpless to take care of themselves.  Because of my relationship with my mother as a child, this was the dynamic that felt "right" emotionally, even though intellectually, I was clearly miserable in these situations.  It took me a long time to throw out this mode of selecting partners.

Considering how your mother treated you, I can definitely see how this could affect you in this way. I am glad though that you've been able to identify this dynamic. How did you reach this point of insight? Was it like a slow but steady process or a sudden light-bulb moment? How were you able to throw this mode of selecting partners out?

I reached this insight after at least a decade of painful choices and repercussions in my personal relationships.  And it has taken me about another decade to fully disentangle from these relationships.  And I am not yet fully disentangled.  And then there are my familial relationships which I still maintain low contact.

It started off as a sudden light-bulb moment.  Only it wasn't a light-bulb.  It was the floor suddenly fell from underneath me and I had to keep from crashing into worse things on my way down the rabbit hole.  Then when I realized that I was stuck in a deep hole, I spent a great deal of time complaining that I was stuck.  And then I realized that I kept falling back into this hole because of my choices.  My unconscious choices.  When my choices became conscious choices... .then the light bulb started to dimly light.  And another decade later I feel like I can see things somewhat clearly now that before I could not see (or chose not to see).

How was I able to throw this mode of selecting partners out?  I had to re-invent my selection process.  I had to give up on everything that I had learned up until that point including romantic fantasies and gut instincts.  One big lightbulb was the realization that I unconsciously picked women who were consistently similar and so I have to drop the delusion that all women were the same in these dysfunctional way.  And it also meant I had to deal with my discomfort in developing familiarity with women with whom I didn't feel this "chemistry" or "connection."  I still ended up marrying a women who has a very familiar dynamic to mine.
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 02:23:57 AM »

For many years, I felt like I was a victim of child sexual abuse. I had repeated nightmares including dreams about my father in a sexually abusive context. After many years, I started to wonder whether my symptoms were down to things like:

Sexual repression in our household and the directive to avoid being fully naked.

How my father used to punish my brothers with a wooden paddle showing two school boys being caned with their shorts down. Somehow, it seemed inappropriate, weird or perverted to me.

The uncomfortable feeling I got when my father watched me in the bath when I was very little.

And how Dad would cuddle me and tell me that they loved me, but only in private. That made me feel uncomfortable too, as if we were doing something that was wrong. He later told me that he did that to make up for the fact that Mum didn't know how to show us love. I later learnt that Mum had warned Dad that if he ever touched her children sexually, she would kill him and she told me she meant it (my Mum's father sexually abused her from age of 4) and she told me that a health professional had suggested that his affection with us when we were toddlers looked inappropriate.

Is any of this emotional incest? I don't know, but it certainly produced a warped sexual and emotional environment to grow up in.

Lifewriter

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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2015, 09:45:52 AM »

Excerpt
1. Was emotional or covert incest something you had to deal with as a child? If it was, who was doing this to you and when did it start? Did it continue into your adult life?

I have always felt like my mother overshared information with me when I was growing up. For as long as I can remember she has treated me like a friend rather than a child. She would share intimate details of all her relationships with me, ask my advice, come to me for emotional support, and I always provided it, at least as best as a child can.

Excerpt
2. In what ways did you feel the way one or both of your parents treated you was 'emotionally incestuous'? How did this behavior make you feel when you were a child? Have you been able to set and enforce boundaries with your parents to protect yourself from further emotionally incestuous behaviors?

As a child, I honestly didn't know it wasn't normal. Sometimes when she'd discuss sexual things, or details of whatever relationship she was in I would feel awkward, like I was being told something that I felt was inappropriate for me to know at that age. This behavior continued into my adult life and has gotten worse. I have lived my entire life doing whatever I needed to make sure she was happy.

About a year ago she shared with me that she was having an emotional affair with a man on Facebook. This was before I knew she had BPD. I tried to be polite at first, and listen to her talk about him, but eventually I had to tell her I was not comfortable discussing that relationship with her. At first she was very upset, she said I was being unsupportive. She would go out of her way to begin talking about him and then abruptly stop and say something like "Oh yea... .you don't wanna hear about it!" I just ignored her when she did that and changed the subject. Since she has cut back on sharing stuff like that with me, but she still discusses relationship issues with her husband with me. I'm in LC with her though, so she doesn't have the opportunity to do it often.

My father who I haven't had contact with in close to 10 years also always made me feel "icky" for lack of a better word. I remember one Christmas, I called my dad to tell him I was going to visit my then boyfriend. He asked me if I was going to get some "Christmas action," referring to sex, and laughed. I was 17 at the time, neither of my parents had even had "the talk" with me and furthermore, I was still a virgin. It just felt extremely inappropriate to say. My father constantly joked about having "the talk" with me, but then never actually did it. Both of my parents constantly commented on the size of my breasts, but my dad was particularly bad about it. I dunno if that's emotional incest or if it's considered sexual abuse even though there was no touching, but either way it felt awkward and inappropriate.

Excerpt
3. Do you feel like the emotional incest has affected you in your adult life? If it has, in what ways? Have you managed to find ways to counteract the negative effects from the emotional incest?

I have had to struggle to learn emotional boundaries. I overcompensate by not really allowing anyone into my life. I've had to learn to trust people with my feelings. I've had to learn how to put myself and my emotional, mental, and physical well-being first. I'm still working on it, but I know that I can't be a good friend, wife, daughter, etc to others if I don't take care of myself. I've had to learn that I'm not responsible for my mother's happiness and that nothing I do can change how she feels. I struggle with feeling selfish and guilty for doing all of those things.

Excerpt
4. How does using the term 'incest' to describe your experiences of emotional violation make you feel? Do you find 'incest' an appropriate label?

I think the mass public is probably more acquainted with the term incest being used in a sexual connotation, so it might be confusing when you explain it to someone else. I personally had a hard time wrapping my head around what emotional incest was, only because I kept thinking it had to be sexual in some way. Emotional violation really sums it up well though.
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2015, 03:19:06 PM »

Hi Lifewriter16

Thanks for sharing your story. The way your father behaved does seem highly inappropriate. I am very sorry you had those experiences.

For many years, I felt like I was a victim of child sexual abuse. I had repeated nightmares including dreams about my father in a sexually abusive context. After many years, I started to wonder whether my symptoms were down to things like:

Sexual repression in our household and the directive to avoid being fully naked.

Are you still having nightmares like this or are they something of the past now?

How my father used to punish my brothers with a wooden paddle showing two school boys being caned with their shorts down. Somehow, it seemed inappropriate, weird or perverted to me.

The uncomfortable feeling I got when my father watched me in the bath when I was very little.

And how Dad would cuddle me and tell me that they loved me, but only in private. That made me feel uncomfortable too, as if we were doing something that was wrong.

I can definitely see how these behaviors would make you feel so uncomfortable. Would you say that your father in general had a hard time with boundaries and respecting boundaries? Particularly your boundaries and privacy?

He later told me that he did that to make up for the fact that Mum didn't know how to show us love. I later learnt that Mum had warned Dad that if he ever touched her children sexually, she would kill him and she told me she meant it (my Mum's father sexually abused her from age of 4) and she told me that a health professional had suggested that his affection with us when we were toddlers looked inappropriate.

What happened after the health professional told your mother that? Did the professional take any actions against your father or discuss the seeming inappropriate aspects of his behavior with him?

Is any of this emotional incest? I don't know, but it certainly produced a warped sexual and emotional environment to grow up in.

Regardless of the label we apply to it, it's clear that the behavior made you feel very uncomfortable. Do you feel like this warped environment that you grew up in has affected you in your adult life?
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2015, 03:42:34 PM »

Hi oceaneyes

About a year ago she shared with me that she was having an emotional affair with a man on Facebook. This was before I knew she had BPD. I tried to be polite at first, and listen to her talk about him, but eventually I had to tell her I was not comfortable discussing that relationship with her. At first she was very upset, she said I was being unsupportive. She would go out of her way to begin talking about him and then abruptly stop and say something like "Oh yea... .you don't wanna hear about it!" I just ignored her when she did that and changed the subject. Since she has cut back on sharing stuff like that with me, but she still discusses relationship issues with her husband with me. I'm in LC with her though, so she doesn't have the opportunity to do it often.

I am glad you were able to assert yourself here and tell your mother how uncomfortable these discussions made you feel. Setting boundaries with an emotionally incestuous parent isn't easy but you were able to do it here Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) There are various options available to us for dealing with boundary violations and changing the subject is actually also one:







Action:Communicate my values. Lead by example (education - proactive)


... .





Action:When a hot topics begin to simmer, I redirect the discussion to a safer topic.  (incident avoidance - proactive).


... .





Action:I will take a time out or hang up (incident avoidance - reactive).


... .







Action:I will remove myself permanently from the environment or until there is change (total avoidance).

My father who I haven't had contact with in close to 10 years also always made me feel "icky" for lack of a better word. I remember one Christmas, I called my dad to tell him I was going to visit my then boyfriend. He asked me if I was going to get some "Christmas action," referring to sex, and laughed. I was 17 at the time, neither of my parents had even had "the talk" with me and furthermore, I was still a virgin. It just felt extremely inappropriate to say. My father constantly joked about having "the talk" with me, but then never actually did it. Both of my parents constantly commented on the size of my breasts, but my dad was particularly bad about it. I dunno if that's emotional incest or if it's considered sexual abuse even though there was no touching, but either way it felt awkward and inappropriate.

I understand why this behavior would make you feel icky. I personally find the things your father said and the comments both your parents made quite inappropriate indeed. It felt awkward and inappropriate to you back then, how do these things make you feel now looking back?

I have had to struggle to learn emotional boundaries. I overcompensate by not really allowing anyone into my life. I've had to learn to trust people with my feelings. I've had to learn how to put myself and my emotional, mental, and physical well-being first. I'm still working on it, but I know that I can't be a good friend, wife, daughter, etc to others if I don't take care of myself. I've had to learn that I'm not responsible for my mother's happiness and that nothing I do can change how she feels. I struggle with feeling selfish and guilty for doing all of those things.

Healing from emotional incest is a continued process. I do believe you've already made significant steps by being able to identify certain inappropriate dynamics in the way your parents treated you, being able to discuss these things and by the boundaries you have learned and are still learning to set Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

I personally had a hard time wrapping my head around what emotional incest was, only because I kept thinking it had to be sexual in some way. Emotional violation really sums it up well though.

I understand why you had a hard time time with the concept of emotional incest. Another member, claudiaduffy, described it very well I think by referring to it as 'molesting of the mind'. Even if there isn't any touching or otherwise overt sexual acts involved, emotional incest can still leave you feeling violated and like you've been molested.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks for sharing your story oceaneyes and Lifewriter16. I know it isn't easy to discuss these kinds of things and I really appreciate your posts here

And schwing, thanks for answering my questions! Smiling (click to insert in post) It's very insightful reading how you were able to identify certain behavior patterns in yourself and subsequently take steps to change them.
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2015, 04:14:58 PM »

Hi Kwamina,

Thanks for your reply. Since my BPDbf and I split up a week ago, I have been focusing upon core trauma and so much stuff is coming up for me, I'm journaling and crying up to four times a day, so I really value your interest and support.

To answer your questions:

The nightmares are a thing of the past, though my post today could trigger some more if it kick starts a healing process.

With respect to boundaries, I don't think I know what they are. When people talk about boundaries, I'm rather confused so I can't really comment upon whether my father had a hard time with them. I'm not sure I was allowed to have boundaries. This is something I could explore.

As far as I know, the health professional took no action after making that comment to my mother. My mother later told me that she knew my father had never sexually abused me because she had threatened to kill him if he did and she meant it. I suspect no real discussion took place because my mum can't talk feelings.

This warped environment has affected me. I have had so many of the symptoms associated with being a survivor of child sexual abuse it's unbelievable. This is why I thought I had been sexually abused by someone in the first place. I also relate easily to other women in this situation. I have AS (asperger's syndrome) which affects empathy, but I have great understanding around this issue.

As I said earlier, posting on this website may well bring things to the surface. It won't bring my boyfriend back (I have terribly mixed feelings about the wisdom of being with him anyway, so that's probably a good thing), but if I deal with this stuff, then next time I find someone who is very special to me, I'll have a better chance of not destroying it with my insecurities.



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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2015, 09:51:38 AM »

Hi again Lifewriter16

With respect to boundaries, I don't think I know what they are. When people talk about boundaries, I'm rather confused so I can't really comment upon whether my father had a hard time with them. I'm not sure I was allowed to have boundaries. This is something I could explore.

Perhaps it will help you to take a look at an article we have on here about boundaries. Here's an excerpt:

Excerpt
When we speak of “boundaries” we are really speaking about our personal values.  This point is often overlooked.  Personal boundaries are simply one way we define our values to others.

... .

Boundaries are how we define our values to others.   A boundary is nothing more than the outer perimeters of our independent core values -  it's like a fence  - anything inside the boundary is consistent with our core values and anything outside the boundary is not.

You can read the entire article here: Getting Our Values and Boundaries in Order
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« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2015, 12:17:25 PM »

Hi there,

Thank you for this thread Kwamina.

Excerpt
1. Was emotional or covert incest something you had to deal with as a child? If it was, who was doing this to you and when did it start? Did it continue into your adult life?

2. In what ways did you feel the way one or both of your parents treated you was 'emotionally incestuous'? How did this behavior make you feel when you were a child? Have you been able to set and enforce boundaries with your parents to protect yourself from further emotionally incestuous behaviors?

3. Do you feel like the emotional incest has affected you in your adult life? If it has, in what ways? Have you managed to find ways to counteract the negative effects from the emotional incest?

4. How does using the term 'incest' to describe your experiences of emotional violation make you feel? Do you find 'incest' an appropriate label?

1 and 2. (I can’t really separate my answers to these questions Smiling (click to insert in post) ) Yes, I had to deal with emotional incest as a child. My uBPD mother used me as a surrogate partner: she told me about her problems with her boyfriends (I had about five stepdads in a row) during the time I went to primary school. She would also force me to sit very close to her while watching tv; I was not allowed to sit apart from her. It took me years to detangle myself from her grip and sit on my side of the couch. I felt like she wanted me to become her. I felt like I was a piece of plankton being eaten by a whale. I often dreamt about monsters during that period. I did not feel like a separate person. I also felt like she did not want me to be a child. She wanted me to be a grown-up so and she wanted to use me to deal with her problems so that she would not have to deal with them herself.

When I went to secondary school, these things continued. Also, she spent most of her free time with me: she took me shopping and she took me to concerts. Having very few friends myself, I asked her to come along to concerts I wanted to see, because I needed the ride and I was afraid to cycle on my own at night. (There was no bus service at night at the place where I lived then.  My only friend was at that time enmeshed with her ex uNPD SO and he did not allow her to go out at all). This made me feel very lonely. I wondered if there was any meaning to life if one could not live it but only endure it. I was constantly waiting for something to come up, because I did not believe I had the power to change my life. My only way out was to go to college, find a job and be able to rent a house far away from her.

When I was in my early twenties (around 2009), I suffered from a severe depression that was caused by a variety of reasons, the most important being my enmeshment with uBPDm and my lack of ability to move out of her home. My former T advised me to spend some more time on my own. I did so, refusing to go on shopping trips with my mother. This resulted in fights. I was accused of ending the “friendship” between me and her. I was desperate to move out of her home.

When I met my partner (in 2012), I had to enforce boundaries with my mother to be able to keep seeing him. Only with the help of my partner did I start to see how she had been using me to “feel” or deal with her own emotions. I have been NC for 15 months now and I am finally leading my own life.

3. Yes, the emotional incest still affects me. I find it hard to understand that I am not responsible for the way another person feels. I am still learning to ignore this thought when it comes up.

4. I find “incest” a very appropriate label, because I have been abused both sexually and emotionally. My mother needed a partner in the physical as well as in the emotional sense. The term “emotional incest” makes the abuse complete in my view. Though it may seem sad, it is also useful to view the abuse as complete: it shows how my mother wanted to control all aspects of her partner and the only way she could do so was to choose her own child as a partner.

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« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2015, 01:18:51 PM »

Hi,

While neither of my parents subjected me to covert incest, I'd still like to speak on this thread for my experience that I am trying to cope with... .as it relates.

I did experience overt incest by several grown family members. 

My mom had uBPD and the household was chaos with little boundaries or protection.

My r/s with my uN/BPD bf of 5 yrs just ended.  His exw has uBPD... .classic type.  The biggest area that I feel stuck on, that triggers me to the core and I wonder how I will move past it is:  I feel retraumatized by my observations of covert incest on the part of my ex and his exw towards their D10-15.  I tried so hard to explain to him his behaviors, his wife's behaviors... .I really felt, had I been given the chance... .I could have helped SD to individuate, be her own person, have her own feelings.  My ex interfered, felt threatened,then finally alienated me from her.  I was utterly dumbfounded and devastated how he just continued to hate me for my role in her life.  We had a very healthy r/s, we were enjoying and she was thriving... .when we were alone.  When dad was around... .he intentionally would sabotage things.

I can barely speak about it clearly... .it is so upsetting.

I feel retraumatized by witnessing this covert incest, trying to help, then I was punished for it!  I had such hope for the whole situation!

Out of all of it... .This is what hurts most!  This hurts me more than my bf leaving me!  More than his ex abusing us!  More than him alienating her from me!  More than losing the dream of our r/s and having to live on my own again! *sigh*

What hurts is I was made powerless to have a continued positive affect on her... .after he alienated me in order to preserve his dynamic!      

I feel like he and his ex are now destroying this girl!
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2015, 02:21:35 PM »

Hi polly87

Thanks for your reply!

This made me feel very lonely. I wondered if there was any meaning to life if one could not live it but only endure it. I was constantly waiting for something to come up, because I did not believe I had the power to change my life.

This was exactly how I felt... .trapped with no way out... .I am glad that you were able to free yourself. Having to remain in a constantly negative environment when you're still so young and don't know how to handle it, is very difficult. You mention that you did not feel like a separate person growing up, I can see how that could cause you to feel responsible for how the other person feels.
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2015, 02:33:06 PM »

Hi Sunflower

I did experience overt incest by several grown family members.  

My mom had uBPD and the household was chaos with little boundaries or protection.

I am very sorry that you were subjected to overt incest by several family-members. How have you learned to cope with these experiences? Do you feel like they affect you now in your adult life? Have you had any help processing these experiences?

My r/s with my uN/BPD bf of 5 yrs just ended.  His exw has uBPD... .classic type.  The biggest area that I feel stuck on, that triggers me to the core and I wonder how I will move past it is:  I feel retraumatized by my observations of covert incest on the part of my ex and his exw towards their D10-15.

... .

I feel retraumatized by witnessing this covert incest, trying to help, then I was punished for it!  I had such hope for the whole situation!

Out of all of it... .This is what hurts most!  This hurts me more than my bf leaving me!  More than his ex abusing us!  More than him alienating her from me!  More than losing the dream of our r/s and having to live on my own again! *sigh*

What hurts is I was made powerless to have a continued positive affect on her... .after he alienated me in order to preserve his dynamic!     

I feel like he and his ex are now destroying this girl!

Given what you've been through yourself I think it makes sense that things like this could have such an effect on you. You mention feeling re-traumatized by it. Does seeing what is happening to her make you feel like witnessing what happened to you all over again? Do you feel like 'saving' her would perhaps in a sense be like saving your younger self that was abused? Feeling powerless is very hard for a child and being made to feel powerless all over again can also bring back a lot of old emotions and memories.
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2015, 04:54:04 PM »

Hi. Thank you for this thread. It really means a lot to see that there are other people that have had similar experiences. I learned early on that none of my peers could understand the feeling of being the one responsible for the family's welfare and the incredible stress that caused. As to the questions posed:

1. Was emotional or covert incest something you had to deal with as a child? If it was, who was doing this to you and when did it start? Did it continue into your adult life?

Yes. From as far back as I can remember. I recall my mother telling people how advanced I was because I was the one that cooked all the meals at 4-5 years old. She left out that I was always cutting my fingers and burning myself due to the lack of supervision though. I remember the odd conflicted feeling that on one hand I was proud of myself for being able to do that and my mother clearly was, but people reacted strangely to her announcement. She never picked up on the cues though, always told people TMI.

As far as adult life, I left home at 15 but still felt responsible for her and checked in daily. I tried to establish some boundaries after I had children in my 20's and she reacted by switching all praise and affection to my sibling.

2. In what ways did you feel the way one or both of your parents treated you was 'emotionally incestuous'? How did this behavior make you feel when you were a child? Have you been able to set and enforce boundaries with your parents to protect yourself from further emotionally incestuous behaviors?

My mother was very upfront about it. Expected me to care for her. Make dinner, bring her food in bed. Listen to how horrible her childhood was in graphic detail nearly daily. Sitting with her when she was hysterically crying and saying she might kill herself. Staying up all night to check on her. Never making it to school on time, never having clean clothes or lunch. My father was very passive and I would negotiate peace when they were fighting by telling them what to say to each other to make up. Even making cards for them to sign and exchange. Looking back now it's hard to believe two adults would be comfortable with that and even expect it from me.

I knew on some level it wasn't normal, but I didn't know what to do other than daydream that I was adopted and my real parents were coming to get me. The weight was paralyzing. Eventually I coped by disassociating, risky behaviors and eventually leaving home at an early age.

Yes but only with periods of no contact. Every time I see her I feel myself revert to a 15 year old in body language and attitude and feel very angry.

3. Do you feel like the emotional incest has affected you in your adult life? If it has, in what ways? Have you managed to find ways to counteract the negative effects from the emotional incest?

Yes. I am lucky enough to have married a loving stable man after a bad run in my teens. I have a great deal of trouble really dealing with my emotions. I think the only one I have is anxiety. Especially with him. I get very scared and weepy if I start to feel like I am dependent on him and pull back. I am able to feel deeply for others though, I devote myself entirely to my kids and have spent my whole life being alert to not in any way being my mother. Now that they are grown though I am having a tough time being with myself. I also seem to attract BPD people as friends and I get very caught up in being needed and trying to help them. Of course this doesn't work, but in some weird way that's when I am happiest, or at least when I know my purpose.

4. How does using the term 'incest' to describe your experiences of emotional violation make you feel? Do you find 'incest' an appropriate label?

It makes me feel uncomfortable, but I do see the connection. Especially since my mother was lacking in physical boundaries with me also. Not overt sexual abuse, but constant need for "cuddling" and some questionable attention to private areas. Always checking for worms (?), and cleaning my private parts well into pre-puberty when it caused sensations I did not understand and still gives me the ickys.
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2015, 05:18:29 PM »

Hi daughterandmom,

Sometimes, I find it hard to credit that adults can be so emotionally ill that they are unable to see the extent to which they abandon, abuse and misuse the very children they are supposed to love and protect. It seems to me that even the name you have chosen to use for yourself on this website attests to emotional incest. You must be experiencing very deep emotional pain as a result. I think you have great emotional strength and a powerful drive for wholeness to feel able to post on such a sensitive issue.

I also want to say that I think the following clearly falls under the umbrella of sexual abuse.

Excerpt
It makes me feel uncomfortable, but I do see the connection. Especially since my mother was lacking in physical boundaries with me also. Not overt sexual abuse, but constant need for "cuddling" and some questionable attention to private areas. Always checking for worms (?), and cleaning my private parts well into pre-puberty when it caused sensations I did not understand and still gives me the ickys.

You were too old to need such 'care' and your mother showed little 'care' in other areas so I can only assume it was to meet her needs, it was clearly not to meet yours.

Take extra special care of yourself and the little child you were... .posting on these issues can cause emotional tidal waves.

Sending you a safe hug if you'd like one &/or best wishes,

Lifewriter
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« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2015, 06:20:54 PM »

Hi Lifewriter16,

I can't even begin to express how much your words mean to me. Thank you so much Smiling (click to insert in post) It really sucks that parents can leave us with so much to sort out. I read your post and I'm so sorry for what you are going through. A breakup would surely stir up all the stuff we try to manage day to day. I do think journaling is a good therapeutic way to deal with and process the feelings. I hope each day gets better for you Smiling (click to insert in post) Hugs
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« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2015, 07:29:00 PM »

Hi daughterandmom,

Sometimes, I find it hard to credit that adults can be so emotionally ill that they are unable to see the extent to which they abandon, abuse and misuse the very children they are supposed to love and protect. It seems to me that even the name you have chosen to use for yourself on this website attests to emotional incest. You must be experiencing very deep emotional pain as a result. I think you have great emotional strength and a powerful drive for wholeness to feel able to post on such a sensitive issue.

I also want to say that I think the following clearly falls under the umbrella of sexual abuse.

Excerpt
It makes me feel uncomfortable, but I do see the connection. Especially since my mother was lacking in physical boundaries with me also. Not overt sexual abuse, but constant need for "cuddling" and some questionable attention to private areas. Always checking for worms (?), and cleaning my private parts well into pre-puberty when it caused sensations I did not understand and still gives me the ickys.


I agree. She should not have touched you like that. At all. Ever. Whatever her thoughts (maybe she still saw you as a baby, who knows? And even babies shouldn't be touched like that), it was a crime, a felony, and I'm sorry she did that to you.
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« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2015, 12:01:10 AM »

Hi daughterandmom

Thanks for joining the conversation. You have been through a lot with your mother. And not to forget your father of course because he was there all the while.

As far as adult life, I left home at 15 but still felt responsible for her and checked in daily. I tried to establish some boundaries after I had children in my 20's and she reacted by switching all praise and affection to my sibling.

Do you still feel like you are responsible for her now? How did it make you feel when your mother switched all praise and affection to your sibling?

My mother was very upfront about it. Expected me to care for her. Make dinner, bring her food in bed. Listen to how horrible her childhood was in graphic detail nearly daily. Sitting with her when she was hysterically crying and saying she might kill herself. Staying up all night to check on her. Never making it to school on time, never having clean clothes or lunch. My father was very passive and I would negotiate peace when they were fighting by telling them what to say to each other to make up. Even making cards for them to sign and exchange. Looking back now it's hard to believe two adults would be comfortable with that and even expect it from me.

I knew on some level it wasn't normal, but I didn't know what to do other than daydream that I was adopted and my real parents were coming to get me. The weight was paralyzing. Eventually I coped by disassociating, risky behaviors and eventually leaving home at an early age.

This is a very heavy burden for a child to have to bear. Not only being made responsible for their marriage and communication, but also basically for keeping your mother alive when she said she might kill herself. How old were you when she started to make these threats of suicide?

Yes but only with periods of no contact. Every time I see her I feel myself revert to a 15 year old in body language and attitude and feel very angry.

This reminds me of something Pete Walker said who has written about emotional flashbacks and complex PTSD:

Excerpt
Remind yourself that you are in an adult body with allies, skills and resources to protect you that you never had as a child. [Feeling small and little is a sure sign of a flashback]

Are you familiar with the term emotional flashback? And do you feel like it might apply to you? You can read more here: Emotional Flashbacks

I also seem to attract BPD people as friends and I get very caught up in being needed and trying to help them. Of course this doesn't work, but in some weird way that's when I am happiest, or at least when I know my purpose.

I actually think this is something that happens to many people who were raised by BPD or otherwise disordered parents. It's not that we really like the way things are, but it is all we know and are used to. 'Normal' relationships and ways of interacting can then actually feel scary and uncomfortable. As a result we in our adult lives then find ourselves recreating some of the drama we were surrounded by as a child.

It makes me feel uncomfortable, but I do see the connection. Especially since my mother was lacking in physical boundaries with me also. Not overt sexual abuse, but constant need for "cuddling" and some questionable attention to private areas. Always checking for worms (?), and cleaning my private parts well into pre-puberty when it caused sensations I did not understand and still gives me the ickys.

I am very sorry to hear that your mother did this to you. I agree with Lifewriter16 and Turkish that this behavior constitutes sexual abuse. It's sometimes a fine line and we can get caught up in exact definitions, but in this case I think the things she did clearly crossed the line of covert into overt sexual abuse. Was your father aware that your mother was doing this to you?
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« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2015, 04:17:49 PM »

Hi Kwamina

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the kindness and the thought provoking questions. This is so new to me to be exploring these things from a different viewpoint. Since I never knew anyone who seemed to have anything in common with any of this I was always trying to figure out what it was about me that made me make the choices I did and feel the way I did/do. The support and kindness I am seeing here is overwhelming.

To answer your questions:

Excerpt
And not to forget your father of course because he was there all the while.

This is interesting. My therapist has asked me why all my anger is directed at my mom. I don't know. I realize from a logical standpoint my dad was also an adult, and he should have at least protected me or at the very least even once acknowledged that things were not right, but I have fond feelings for him and if anything I feel sorry for him. When my mother was mean to him the only feeling I really had was feeling the hurt I thought he had and wanting to make that go away.

Excerpt
Do you still feel like you are responsible for her now? How did it make you feel when your mother switched all praise and affection to your sibling?

No. Mostly I feel anger. Disdain. I am ashamed to admit she doesn't even seem like a real person to me. More like a cartoon character. When I see her I am overcome by ridiculous teenage disdain which I do my best to cover.

When she switched to my sibling being the smart one, the kind one, the helpful one, the good parent- at first I just felt relief for the break. Now and then I feel wistful for the idea of a mother. Especially since I have tried so hard to be a good one. It comes to mind quite often in the middle of a situation that this is what my mother should have done/said.  I always let her off the hook because I knew she didn't have the skills. But doesn't that mean she didn't give them to me either? So if I can figure out how to show love then doesn't that just make her selfish? This kind of thoughts just make my head hurt and my stomach sick.

Excerpt
How old were you when she started to make these threats of suicide?

Not sure exactly, but well before I went to school. It always seemed like an immediate possibility although she never even made an attempt.

Excerpt
Are you familiar with the term emotional flashback? And do you feel like it might apply to you?

I read the thread on this. I'm not sure. I never feel small around her. Always like an angry teenager- so I don't know if that counts. I never really felt small as a child either for some reason- I suppose that's because no one put me down like I see many other people on this board had to endure. It was more like I was always expected to take care of things like an adult.

Excerpt
I think the things she did clearly crossed the line of covert into overt sexual abuse. Was your father aware that your mother was doing this to you?

No, because he left all care of us kids to her. And I have trouble viewing this as sexual abuse. I admit it had that effect on me, feelings of sexual stimulation by a parent is extremely disturbing, but I do not think that was her intent. This would happen along with ear cleaning, etc. I can't come up with an excuse for why she wouldn't realize the effect it had except that maybe she has no idea how the female body works. It's entirely possible hers doesn't work that way.

Once again, I really appreciate the kindness of your reply and the dialogue.
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« Reply #24 on: July 18, 2015, 05:39:50 PM »

Hi again daughterandmom

This is interesting. My therapist has asked me why all my anger is directed at my mom. I don't know. I realize from a logical standpoint my dad was also an adult, and he should have at least protected me or at the very least even once acknowledged that things were not right, but I have fond feelings for him and if anything I feel sorry for him. When my mother was mean to him the only feeling I really had was feeling the hurt I thought he had and wanting to make that go away.

Perhaps you needed your father to be the 'good' parent in your mind because your mother's behavior was so problematic. If you had allowed yourself to also see your father as someone who didn't do what 'good' parents are supposed to do, it might have felt as a total abandonment for you.

I am ashamed to admit she doesn't even seem like a real person to me. More like a cartoon character. When I see her I am overcome by ridiculous teenage disdain which I do my best to cover.

This actually makes sense to me. As I've learned about BPD I started to view my undiagnosed BPD (uBPD) mother and sister differently and often find it very hard to view them as real and whole people because they are limited in so many ways. To me it sometimes too feels like I'm not dealing with real people which is a kind of surreal experience.

I always let her off the hook because I knew she didn't have the skills. But doesn't that mean she didn't give them to me either? So if I can figure out how to show love then doesn't that just make her selfish? This kind of thoughts just make my head hurt and my stomach sick.

Considering that your mother is disordered and quite possibly has BPD, a possibility is that she not only lacks certain skills, but also lacks the capacity to acquire those skills. You fortunately do possess this capacity and have managed to make positive changes in your life Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Not sure exactly, but well before I went to school. It always seemed like an immediate possibility although she never even made an attempt.

I can imagine how confusing and scary this must have been for you. My own uBPD sister also has made frequent suicide threats but has never actually made an attempt. You never know for certain how serious the person making those threats is though and especially when you're a child this can cause you to be continually on edge.

It was more like I was always expected to take care of things like an adult.

This is also a heavy burden to carry. So you basically weren't even allowed to feel small, to feel like a kid, you always were required to be the adult and take care of your mother's emotional needs. A total role reversal. How does it make you feel now that you're an adult to actually put your own needs and wants first? Is this something you are comfortable with?

And I have trouble viewing this as sexual abuse. I admit it had that effect on me, feelings of sexual stimulation by a parent is extremely disturbing, but I do not think that was her intent. This would happen along with ear cleaning, etc. I can't come up with an excuse for why she wouldn't realize the effect it had except that maybe she has no idea how the female body works. It's entirely possible hers doesn't work that way.

Did you ever express to her, either as a child or later when you were an adult, that what she did made you very uncomfortable? If so, how did she respond to you and did she give any indication of understanding why this would make you feel uncomfortable?

Take care and I am glad you appreciate the dialogue. Welcome to bpdfamily
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« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2015, 05:47:22 PM »

Hi Kwamina

Thank you again for your reply and for the kind questions that give me a chance to finally talk about this with people who understand.

Excerpt
This actually makes sense to me. As I've learned about BPD I started to view my undiagnosed BPD (uBPD) mother and sister differently and often find it very hard to view them as real and whole people because they are limited in so many ways. To me it sometimes too feels like I'm not dealing with real people which is a kind of surreal experience.

Surreal is the right word for it. I hate how guilty I feel though for feeling that way about her. If my kids saw me like that it would kill me.

Excerpt
My own uBPD sister also has made frequent suicide threats but has never actually made an attempt.

I'm sorry you have had this in your life also.    It's not something that you can get used to. And there's always the feeling that the one time you decide they would never go through with it, that will be the one time that they do.

Excerpt
This is also a heavy burden to carry. So you basically weren't even allowed to feel small, to feel like a kid, you always were required to be the adult and take care of your mother's emotional needs. A total role reversal. How does it make you feel now that you're an adult to actually put your own needs and wants first? Is this something you are comfortable with?

Nope. I guess I am still in the early stages on the Survivors Guide. I would have to say between 3-4? I had my first of four children at 19 and pretty much just switched over to caring for them. Only in the past year since the youngest moved out have I had to address this. And I had absolutely no idea how. That's what sent me to therapy and this board.

Excerpt
And I have trouble viewing this as sexual abuse. I admit it had that effect on me, feelings of sexual stimulation by a parent is extremely disturbing, but I do not think that was her intent. This would happen along with ear cleaning, etc. I can't come up with an excuse for why she wouldn't realize the effect it had except that maybe she has no idea how the female body works. It's entirely possible hers doesn't work that way.

Did you ever express to her, either as a child or later when you were an adult, that what she did made you very uncomfortable? If so, how did she respond to you and did she give any indication of understanding why this would make you feel uncomfortable?

No. I can't imagine that it would go well. She would either not remember, or start crying and saying how far I have set her back now by accusing her of being anything other than the loving, caring, self sacrificing person she is. Then I would feel guilty and apologize, and she would make it clear that while she appreciates my apology, the damage was deep and is a wound she will now have to carry forever.  :'(
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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2015, 04:18:03 AM »

Hi,

I just read the past couple of posts. Daughterandmom, I'm sorry you were put through such misery in your youth. Your story interested me because I experienced the same sick kind of abuse by my own mother. She also wanted cuddling all the time, and she would clean my private parts until I was 10 or so (and she did some other gross things that I will not bother you with just now). If I may ask, why do you have trouble viewing this behaviour as sexual abuse? The things that happened to me did not seem like sexual abuse to me at first but every single person I have told about it tells me that it is, just like Turkish and Kwamina said above.

It can be hard to accept such a painful truth. Still, I understand your viewpoint that your mother does not know how the female organs work. Maybe she doesn't - but don't you think that most parents would hesitate to touch their kids in the private areas? Besides that, do you think your mother wanted to control your body by cleaning it? Was she a controlling person in other ways? I am asking these questions because I am still wondering about these things myself. Maybe we can find out some clues together 

Like you, I feel I am still at step 3 or 4 of the survivor's guide. I am still trying to accept what has happened, which is taking a while because those events are so strange and sick.

Wishing you the best 
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« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2015, 02:10:18 AM »



To explore the concept of emotional or covert incest and how to heal from it, it can be helpful to ask ourselves some questions:

1. Was emotional or covert incest something you had to deal with as a child? If it was, who was doing this to you and when did it start? Did it continue into your adult life?

2. In what ways did you feel the way one or both of your parents treated you was 'emotionally incestuous'? How did this behavior make you feel when you were a child? Have you been able to set and enforce boundaries with your parents to protect yourself from further emotionally incestuous behaviors?

3. Do you feel like the emotional incest has affected you in your adult life? If it has, in what ways? Have you managed to find ways to counteract the negative effects from the emotional incest?

4. How does using the term 'incest' to describe your experiences of emotional violation make you feel? Do you find 'incest' an appropriate label?


1 and 2-  I think that emotional incest would probably fit best, although the things my dad has said to me would cross the line into something more serious. I don't have any memory if he ever acted out anything, but I do know that as I grew up I felt more "weird" around him. Part of that could just have been being a teenager though.

I had a lot of sexual knowledge as a child, but didn't really understand what it was I knew or how I knew it. I of course felt ashamed about it so I never told anyone, at all. I can remember a couple things that really creep me out about that knowledge, but I don't think I'll ever share that with anyone. I just don't understand where it came from because I was only like 6 or 7. I feel like there's this monster lurking in my past that I maybe placed so far in my memory I can't get it out? I don't know, it just doesn't make sense to me.

Right before we moved into this house we were in forever, I went with my dad to a store and he parked a little ways from it. (I didn't know at the time but he was stealing.) I remember a shadow, that's all I remember, coming to my window and all I can feel is this deep fear and when my dad gets back I'm hiding in the floor and jump when he goes to open the door. (He locked them all before he left. I don't understand why he didn't just take me in.) He asked what was wrong and I can just vaguely remember saying something or someone scared me so he jumped out of the car and looked in every direction for who could've done it. There wasn't anyone around so he told me it was alright and we left. So weird... .

My mother just wanted a friend as my dad completely alienated her from her family and friends after they got married. He controlled her every move and even called at the grocery stores if he thought she was taking too long making her give him a detailed account of every move she made and still not believing her. So, after my older sister didn't work out for some reason, I was her next "best friend".

I think I was probably around 7 or 8 years old when I took on both roles. For my mom my sister ditched her (and my sister expressed jealousy and sadness/regret over this once to me before when we had discussed it) and for my dad it was when I started to really look like my mom. Yes, it continues still today albeit in a different way. I have no idea how many times my dad has confused me with my mom and went to hug and kiss me... .THANK GOODNESS I have quick reflexes. He always seemed perplexed, like he really honestly thought I was her and said how sorry he was. So, I don't know. But I have distanced myself as much as possible from being his sounding board about mom and everything else. My mom still treats me like a friend instead of a daughter most of the time. She gets critical of my choices and doesn't realize how it affects me. She will switch from saying my soon to be ex is a monster to why don't you just give it a try? She won't tell you exactly how she feels, then she'll just be like I don't care who's mad at me I'm gonna say how I feel, I'm too old to worry about this anymore. She's not that old... .

It made me feel smart, helpful, worthless, weird, aggravated, angry. Kind of the whole gamut.

3- I know for a fact that it has affected me in my adult life. I had a previous pastor that kept telling me to get out of the way, I wasn't their savior and I was hindering God from doing what he wanted because I kept stepping in to "help" them whenever they would fall too far or honestly, sometimes I just felt obligated too. At some point I would try to actually control things and they would lash out. They seen me as trying to be better than them. But I never felt like I retch a hand down, just over. I didn't learn about co-dependency until I got talked into going to a home for women by the said pastor. Problem was, they didn't know how to deal with me because I wasn't pregnant with a string of bad relationships, (at the time I never had one) on drugs, alcoholic or smoked weed or cigarettes. My addiction was only obvious to trained counselors, saving people. I didn't identify with it at first, but I began to see it in myself. I wasn't there for more than a month because of their lack of and harsh treatment of me though.

Yes, but it has been and continues to be a LONG process. I keep finding new things to have to deal with. I think realizing, accepting and coming to terms with my own issues because of how I was treated has definitely been the most effective. I had to focus on me, which is extremely difficult because I grew up being responsible for everyone else and stuffing my needs.

4- Uh, that term really creeps me out. I still can't identify with it... .Like I said, there's like some huge fear/monster that keeps me from knowing what caused me to know those things and part of me doesn't want to ever know what that is. Before my counselor left for a better job she had just expressed to me she wanted to work on my feelings as a child. Inside, I flipped for no real reason to my logical mind on the outside. I must subconsciously know what it is, because what I can remember shouldn't elicit that response. I don't know. 
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« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2015, 07:19:25 AM »

Thanks for joining the discussion purekalm

I had a lot of sexual knowledge as a child, but didn't really understand what it was I knew or how I knew it. I of course felt ashamed about it so I never told anyone, at all. I can remember a couple things that really creep me out about that knowledge, but I don't think I'll ever share that with anyone. I just don't understand where it came from because I was only like 6 or 7. I feel like there's this monster lurking in my past that I maybe placed so far in my memory I can't get it out? I don't know, it just doesn't make sense to me.

... .

Like I said, there's like some huge fear/monster that keeps me from knowing what caused me to know those things and part of me doesn't want to ever know what that is. Before my counselor left for a better job she had just expressed to me she wanted to work on my feelings as a child. Inside, I flipped for no real reason to my logical mind on the outside. I must subconsciously know what it is, because what I can remember shouldn't elicit that response. I don't know.

I understand your fear and why you have questions about how you attained this particular knowledge when you were only so young. Have you ever thought about discussing these things with another counselor?

Right before we moved into this house we were in forever, I went with my dad to a store and he parked a little ways from it. (I didn't know at the time but he was stealing.) I remember a shadow, that's all I remember, coming to my window and all I can feel is this deep fear and when my dad gets back I'm hiding in the floor and jump when he goes to open the door. (He locked them all before he left. I don't understand why he didn't just take me in.) He asked what was wrong and I can just vaguely remember saying something or someone scared me so he jumped out of the car and looked in every direction for who could've done it. There wasn't anyone around so he told me it was alright and we left. So weird... .

Was this the only time that you experienced this particular kind of deep fear? Do you perhaps notice certain things, people or events triggering this exact same fear in you?

This incident actually reminds me of a recurring dream/nightmare I used to have as a child. In the dream I was always in our house and suddenly I realized that there was a presence there. It was also a sort of shade or shadow and when I saw it, I froze and couldn't move or talk anymore. When the shadow reached me I always woke up immediately. The shadow actually never hurt me in the dreams though but it was still very scary. As a kid I had a tennis-ball and the last time I had this dream, I confronted the shadow and threw my tennis-ball at it. That was the last time I had this dream. The dream scared me as child but now looking back at it, I've come to interpret it in another way. I was taught to believe the danger came from the outside world, while in reality the danger came from inside our house from my own family. You could say the dream might have been my subconscious alerting me to the danger from inside that I wasn't fully aware of yet as I was just a child. I've had similar dreams that to me also convey this message of 'the danger from within lurking in the shadows'.

... .for my dad it was when I started to really look like my mom. Yes, it continues still today albeit in a different way. I have no idea how many times my dad has confused me with my mom and went to hug and kiss me... .THANK GOODNESS I have quick reflexes. He always seemed perplexed, like he really honestly thought I was her and said how sorry he was. So, I don't know. But I have distanced myself as much as possible from being his sounding board about mom and everything else.

Very good you have such quick reflexes indeed. Your father doing this is something that I find quite concerning, especially since it has happened several times and he still makes this 'mistake'. At the beginning of your post you also mention that the things your dad has said to you cross the line into something more serious. I am very sorry you've had these experiences which are very unpleasant (understatement) and I can imagine also very difficult to talk about. Given all of this, I think it is very wise indeed that you have distanced yourself from him to protect yourself.

My mom still treats me like a friend instead of a daughter most of the time.

... .

It made me feel smart, helpful, worthless, weird, aggravated, angry. Kind of the whole gamut.

I can totally relate to these feelings. On the one hand I felt special and chosen, while on the other hand I felt extremely burdened, confused and uncomfortable. I felt trapped and not able to really be myself or even to develop a 'real me'. Emotional incest and/or parentification places an enormous burden on children.

I didn't learn about co-dependency until I got talked into going to a home for women by the said pastor. Problem was, they didn't know how to deal with me because I wasn't pregnant with a string of bad relationships, (at the time I never had one) on drugs, alcoholic or smoked weed or cigarettes. My addiction was only obvious to trained counselors, saving people. I didn't identify with it at first, but I began to see it in myself. I wasn't there for more than a month because of their lack of and harsh treatment of me though.

Yes, but it has been and continues to be a LONG process. I keep finding new things to have to deal with. I think realizing, accepting and coming to terms with my own issues because of how I was treated has definitely been the most effective. I had to focus on me, which is extremely difficult because I grew up being responsible for everyone else and stuffing my needs.

Healing yourself can be a long and hard process indeed, I am glad you do feel you've made progress. In another thread we also discuss unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms we recognize in ourselves and how to deal with them:

Recognizing and dealing with our own unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms

Uh, that term really creeps me out. I still can't identify with it... .

Emotional incest is a difficult subject. Something many of us find uncomfortable to talk about or even acknowledge. The term 'incest' is a loaded term of course.

I am glad you've been able to get your story out here like this and hope that you will find this helpful  
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« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2015, 11:47:46 PM »

Hey again Kwamina, 

No, not really. Like I said before, I really don't want to. I know denial is not the answer but I'm going through enough right now to try and figure that out. Maybe some time down the road when I'm a little healthier?  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Hmm... .interestingly terrifying dream there. I had nightmares all the way up until the age of 13 when I started trying to figure out who God was... And I mean there's a difference between a bad dream and a nightmare, trust me. I have even had recurring nightmares later on in my early twenties but things were different than they were when I was younger. I remembered the nightmare and could pick out the differences from the one when I was younger to the one I was having... .but I do literally thank God that they have been rare after 13.

Interesting question, to be honest I haven't felt much fear on a continual basis, it was mainly anxiety. Until I met my ex (well soon to be anyway) and it was like a cloud/spirit of fear kind of came with him. Not of him, just with him. There have been a number of events but I highly doubt anyone would believe me because some were spiritual in nature.

I will only say one because it was so vivid and also a shadow type thing. I was about 7 or 8 and we (my family, two sisters, brother and parents) were getting ready to go to the park. I was in the kitchen with my parents which overlooked the back yard and my siblings had already went around front to claim their seats. I remember being all happy and ran out the door to go see what they were doing. I got around the garage that was next to the house and stopped dead because I saw a HUGE pure black but not furry, shadowy hound type dog. It had really long ears and was taller than the car, probably about five or six feet in length. (From snout to tail) It was standing there, watching my siblings. But, as soon as I stopped it immediately turned it's head, and it's eyes were souless, and very quickly rerouted it's massive body charging me. I screamed and ran back around to the kitchen, just knowing I wasn't going to be fast enough, and bolted into the open door crying my eyes out about it. My dad ran out looking everywhere for it and couldn't find it. Needless to say, I stayed in the house until it was time to leave. Odder still, as I walked out to the car later with my parents I noticed something else. Right across the road, sitting perfectly still was this HUGE collie dog. It had tons of mixed colors and I know it's so strange, but it was glowing. It had this absolutely beautiful, calming, peaceful aura about it that was visual. I felt no fear and in fact, I felt "warm" for lack of a better word. Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) I smiled and pointed to it, telling everyone to look at it. They looked, but by the time I looked back, just a half second, it was gone. My parents screamed at me because we lived on a main road and I took off towards the end of the driveway to see if it was running down the street or something. I just HAD to prove that I wasn't seeing things you know? But, I left empty handed and feeling like I was weird since I was the only one who saw them that day. What's your take Kwamina?

Also, just recently, when my mom was going back and forth about wanting her own place and calling my ex a monster and then saying why not try, I actually tried to talk to him about it. It was like pulling teeth like always. But, after my son and him went to sleep I stood in the doorway and looked at him (ex) and I was filled with this deep fear and anxiety. From head to foot it made me wide awake and I couldn't sleep that night for going back and forth in my head, crying, wondering what I should do but already knowing the answer because of my reaction to even thinking about being in a place alone with him. So, obviously I decided no matter what anyone else wanted, I just couldn't do it... .:'( :'(

Yeah, I really do look so much like my mom that from the back even my siblings have mistaken me for her sometimes. But, I can't excuse how often he's done it and made myself a lot more aware when he's around. I used to be alone with him a lot, at night on school nights and weekends driving around looking for stuff to scrap or sell in a yard sale. Usually two of us would go, but there are a lot of times it was just me. He would always look at me with this longing in his eyes because he wanted mom to have my intellect and although she is smart, she has this really ditzy side that I think he should love. But I digress, he would tell me all the time how he wished she was more like me and he can't have conversations with her like he can me, yada yada. But, since I started the teenage years and I realized how "icky" he made me feel I distanced myself and only got caught up in his stuff rarely since then.

Yes, yes it does. I hated them and myself. It was so horrible. I just wanted someone to care, to reach out and see how I was doing. To fill one of MY needs. Only, I accepted early on that was never going to happen... .=( 

Exactly, because when I think of incest only the sexual part comes to mind and as far as I know nothing has happened... .That said, parentification is an easier term to understand and accept.

Thank you, and I have found it helpful. Extremely difficult, but helpful.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #30 on: October 11, 2015, 09:11:49 AM »

Hi purekalm

Thanks for answering my questions! These really are very difficult things to talk about but I am glad you have found it helpful. You telling your story can also help other people reading here so I really appreciate the courage and strength you've shown here

No, not really. Like I said before, I really don't want to. I know denial is not the answer but I'm going through enough right now to try and figure that out. Maybe some time down the road when I'm a little healthier?  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Take your time indeed. You should only take a next step when you know and feel that you are ready for it. Healing takes time and like you said in that other post, there is a time for everything: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Interesting question, to be honest I haven't felt much fear on a continual basis, it was mainly anxiety. Until I met my ex (well soon to be anyway) and it was like a cloud/spirit of fear kind of came with him. Not of him, just with him. There have been a number of events but I highly doubt anyone would believe me because some were spiritual in nature.

... .

I just HAD to prove that I wasn't seeing things you know? But, I left empty handed and feeling like I was weird since I was the only one who saw them that day. What's your take Kwamina?

Well I'm a man of science!  A true man of science that is, and every true scientist knows that there are more questions than answers. Every time one question is answered, two more appear. You had some extraordinary experiences and I know there are also other people who've had extraordinary experiences that seem to fall beyond what the scientific community believes is possible based on our current understanding of the world. That however doesn't have to mean that these things aren't true or real, it's just that we don't yet have deciphered how these things work. There is more that we don't know than that we do know. So there could definitely be more to life than meets the eye. The evidence of things not seen.

Yeah, I really do look so much like my mom that from the back even my siblings have mistaken me for her sometimes. But, I can't excuse how often he's done it and made myself a lot more aware when he's around. I used to be alone with him a lot, at night on school nights and weekends driving around looking for stuff to scrap or sell in a yard sale. Usually two of us would go, but there are a lot of times it was just me. He would always look at me with this longing in his eyes because he wanted mom to have my intellect and although she is smart, she has this really ditzy side that I think he should love. But I digress, he would tell me all the time how he wished she was more like me and he can't have conversations with her like he can me, yada yada. But, since I started the teenage years and I realized how "icky" he made me feel I distanced myself and only got caught up in his stuff rarely since then.

I understand why this would make you feel 'icky', it would make me feel that way too. Regardless of what his motives or intentions really are, I'd say it's absolutely clear that he did (and does) not respect your boundaries. This lack of respect for boundaries is at the core of a lot that is discussed in this thread by everyone participating here. Whether it's labeled as emotional or covert incest, emotional enmeshment or parentification, the bottom-line is that boundaries are being trampled on.
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« Reply #31 on: October 12, 2015, 01:50:19 AM »

Hey Kwamina 

No problem. I am seeking to understand myself and decisions better and to do that I HAVE to look at the things I don't want to. And like you said, hopefully someone who has gone through something similar that may never open up but can identify with my issues can be helped in some way.

Yep, I believe that wholeheartedly. It may just not be time yet, but there will be the time that is just right. Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) (Goldilock's porridge.)

Ah, I agree. The scientists who try to say this is the way it is and everyone should believe it as fact irritate me. Because there are so many people who do so. =(  Exactly, "our current" ability. It doesn't mean we wouldn't be able to figure out the specifics at some point. I believe there is a realm/reality that is just as real as the one we live in and is connected to our spirit and because we deny that part of us it is harder to see with our natural eyes so to speak. How come so many people admit to seeing something out of the corner of their eyes and then rationalize that they didn't because our world system would label them crazy. And, that is a VERY lonely label... .I totally get that some people just make stuff up for attention and it draws away the validity of the ones who have ACTUALLY experienced something that shook them up, can't explain it and then are not looked at as sane anymore, definitely not understood. "The evidence of things not seen" indeed Kwamina. 

Yes, and you know what's so funny/sad? I didn't even know or understand the concept of boundaries until a few years ago. I had been listening to the radio and someone said something that didn't feel right about their family and the person suggested and said they would send them a book titled Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I was curious and got the book.

Now, I don't believe what everyone says no matter who they are, degrees etc. but they had some majorly valid points about boundaries and how to enforce them. Not something that you make "them" do, but something you decide. Like, ok, I will tolerate your bad mood, but I will not tolerate your devaluing of me because of it and I am going to walk away or stop talking if I cannot. You didn't tell them what to do, you said what behavior bothers you and as a result what you will or will not do with it. You are taking yourself away from the crazy situation because you admit that you help make it that way and you don't want to do it anymore. Yeah, they can follow, they can get angry or abusive, in which case you can make sure ahead of time when you want to say those things you have someone safe with you so nothing bad happens. But, you are effectively taking ownership of your issues and not focusing on them but yourself.

It still took me a while to get right and I'm still working on it. At first, it was like, well how can I do that? Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) My ex always flipped going to the store, it has always been a miserable time and the car ride home... .ugh... .I couldn't escape him, so how was I supposed to enforce  a boundary? First, I didn't yell back. That was hard, cause he knew just what buttons to push to make me angry. Then, I would sit and listen saying nothing and he'd rail on me the whole way home. And then, when I was able to stay focused I got to the point where I could say this "I don't appreciate your tone of voice and the things you are saying to me. I can't walk away and I can't tell you what to do. But, what I'm gonna do is not engage you anymore when you are in this state. When I feel respected I will attempt a conversation with you." Not perfect, needed work, but I told him how I felt and what I wouldn't do trying to make those I statements.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #32 on: October 22, 2015, 03:46:28 PM »

Hi,

I just read the past couple of posts. Daughterandmom, I'm sorry you were put through such misery in your youth. Your story interested me because I experienced the same sick kind of abuse by my own mother. She also wanted cuddling all the time, and she would clean my private parts until I was 10 or so (and she did some other gross things that I will not bother you with just now). If I may ask, why do you have trouble viewing this behaviour as sexual abuse? The things that happened to me did not seem like sexual abuse to me at first but every single person I have told about it tells me that it is, just like Turkish and Kwamina said above.

It can be hard to accept such a painful truth. Still, I understand your viewpoint that your mother does not know how the female organs work. Maybe she doesn't - but don't you think that most parents would hesitate to touch their kids in the private areas? Besides that, do you think your mother wanted to control your body by cleaning it? Was she a controlling person in other ways? I am asking these questions because I am still wondering about these things myself. Maybe we can find out some clues together 

Like you, I feel I am still at step 3 or 4 of the survivor's guide. I am still trying to accept what has happened, which is taking a while because those events are so strange and sick.

Wishing you the best 

Hi Polly 

I am so sorry for not replying to your post for so long. I was just discovering all these issues and being on the boards got to be too much. Kinda went through a really bad hyper anxiety/depression episode that I am just starting to come out of now. I'm sorry- I should have got right back to you. I will post, but since so much time has passed my post would not be consecutive and it might not make sense to anyone.

To answer your questions:

I guess I have trouble viewing it as sexual abuse because I cannot see it as an intentional attempt to cause harm. Now that I am an adult and I have raised daughters of my own, it seems absolutely ridiculous, but still I can't categorize it as sexual abuse because I suppose I would need to feel that she was either trying to harm me or was getting some sexual gratification out of it and I don't think either is the case. This makes me ill to say, but I will clarify what actually happened rather than just say it was cleaning. It was when I was just starting body changes, maybe 9 or 10? And I noticed discharge in my panties and asked my mother about it. She wanted to inspect and decided to clean the clitoris area with a bobby pin. Ugg I hate admitting this. I feel so gross. When my legs started to shake I asked her why and she said because it's a sensitive area. Then she wanted to check and clean every week or so for a while. My therapist is trying to get it through my head that this was abuse but I am having trouble with it. I feel so gross for letting it happen.

Yes she was controlling. To a ridiculous degree. She would suddenly decide no showers except Tuesday nights right when I was starting junior high and needed them. Wasn't allowed to shave my legs even though they were really hairy and we had to wear shorts for PE. Then when I was finally allowed the rule was only to the knee.

Constantly changing diets- for a while she has some deal with a produce guy and picked up the boxes of un sellable vegetables and fruits and that's all we ate. The school called her once when all I brought for lunch was moldy strawberries. For a while it was all juices. For a while she put us on 7 day fasts.

Then there was the parenting. Lots of going to bed without dinner. Lots of standing in the corner. I remember when I talked back once- my punishment was 2 hours in the corner, standing every night after dinner for two weeks. For some reason I never questioned the punishments. For a while she whipped us with a branch from the tree outside. Then abruptly she decided no punishment except for saying how very, very disappointed and hurt she was. That was by far the worst.

I read a lot since we had no friends and I spent all my time in my room, but I could only read books that she read first and went through with a marker blacking out things she didn't want me to read. But then of course there was no consistency because occasionally as a "special treat" she would let me stay up and watch a completely inappropriate R rated movie with her.

I really appreciate your reply, and I would be happy as you said to try to find some clues together. I would be really interested to see how much of your experience parallels mine- I still can't get over finding people on here that understand ANY of this! I learned long ago to just say my mom was crazy and dismiss the subject because if I gave any examples I just got weird looks and it was clear that people could not relate.

I hope you are doing well 

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« Reply #33 on: February 28, 2016, 06:33:25 AM »

In our feature article about emotional incest, several steps are listed that can help people recover from emotional incest. Debra L. Kaplan, MA, LPC, an intensive out-patient counselor specializing in emotional incest recovery, says the process of recovery contains five elements:

•   Identify the family of origin and the particular family dynamics involved

•   Recognize any patterns of emotional incest between caregivers and the abused individual

•   Learn to set boundaries with that parent. In the case of a deceased caregiver work with a therapist who can help facilitate empty chair work or another experientially based modality for grief and loss

•   Acknowledge any feelings of abandonment as a result of the emotional incest

•   Work toward individuation and separation by learning to reparent the self (Inner child work)

An important part of this recovery process is learning to set boundaries. For that reason I think it's interesting to look at the types of boundaries we distinguish in our workshop about boundaries:

•   Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances.

•   Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions.

•   Emotional boundaries help us deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others.

Emotional or covert incest clearly violates emotional boundaries, but also mental ones. What sets it apart from overt incest is that then also physical boundaries are violated. The stories in this thread make clear that it isn't necessarily an either-or situation. There are examples here of parents and other adults who were not only covertly incestuous but also overtly.

These aren't easy things to talk about. I applaud the courageous members who have responded in this thread and shared their experiences with us. By sharing their stories they are also helping others and showing them that they are not alone and it's okay to talk about these things.
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« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2016, 01:24:37 PM »

Hi Kwamina, just been discussing these things on another thread so pleased to have your take on things! My story: uNBPD mom would treat me as a parental child from an early age, and still today treats me like we are the same age.I can remember being six years old and being told to go wipe my 1 year old brother's bum when he was on the toilet. Stuff like that. Walked myself from preschool and sat in the library as I was told until she came from work to fetch me. I used to be so hungry I would eat the corners of book pages.  I did not know this was neglect. But it was not so much the concrete actions as the way she was not aware I had a identity separate from her. She never had any concept of boundaries. She is the world. When she went on a diet I went on a diet.I had body issue images for years because as I reached puberty my body became a topic of public discussion at the family table and every new kilo or curve would be viewed with apprehension and the warning that I would never get a boyfriend. Most fortunately as lesbian I have never had that problem but of course I did not know that then Smiling (click to insert in post)

Things got worse as I got older. My codependent father with whom at least I could have conversations with that weren't about him  became a serial philanderer. Now, looking back I can see how this in some weird way this enabled him to stay in the marriage but as a teen I had severe abandonment issues, worrying about family stability and simply had to grow up without a father. I first became aware of this at 15, but he carried on until I was in my forties. Long story but to the extent that I had ever had them at that point I stopped having parents. They became embroiled in the guilt, the lying, the raging, the hypocrisy and physically not being there as my dad would be with another woman and my mom would be stalking them. I left home at 16 and was NC or ELC for a couple of years. By 19 I upped contact with them but it was intolerable so I went NC again. In twenties tried again, by that time I was tired of seesawing so have since then tried consistent LC. I would go visit their town once a year, they would come visit me once a year and talk on the phone.    The emotional incest part was that the more my dad absented himself the more my mom started treating me as a surrogate spouse. I would have to have conversations way beyond my age and inappropriate at any time. Intimate things about what she thought my father was doing with these women which I really did not want to know. When she caught an STD from him we all knew. When she felt lonely or needed care and companionship she called me. It was a family drama.As a child I would dream of being a tennisball in a match my parents were playing and as a young adult it was like that. I hated contact because I would get sucked in to a marriage I had not chosen.  She would gradually shift her responsibilities on to me, when I was 21 my younger brother, then 16, and my orphaned cousin, 17, came to live with me because my mom felt she could not deal with them. They of course were only too happy to leave and it did not occur to me that I was too young to be caring for two teenage boys. Have never really stopped fostering since, although I sometimes have a few good years in between troubled teenage children coming out of BPD home. As my two brothers started making children I am now fostering the second generation, more like a grandmother I guess. Not doing too badly at least with my younger brother and his second family I get to be an aunt rather than a parent and this gives me endless pleasure. My uBPD older brother and my mom still get upset that I am not adopting his three as fully as they would like, and guilt trip me about it between rages.   A few years ago this started really irking me since I reasoned that heterosexual women get a break sometime in their fifties and that I too deserved an empty nest syndrome Smiling (click to insert in post) So I am trying to set boundaries and have a life. Two years I took a stand and said: what's my name? She calls all of us out of our names and use the name of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc until one of us gets it and responds. So I have trained her a little, now she calls me "girl". Progress! This last Xmas holiday she was raging about me running away from home at 16, 37 years later this is still something that she and my UBPD older brother cannot let go of. I said: but it was my life. I had a right to decide what to do with it. My life is not about you. She gasped at this and is still struggling to deal with it. I guess that will be my boundary for 2016.

How it has affected me, well, I went into therapy at 37 with suicidal depression and PTSD. Have been in therapy on and off ever since though out now for almost two years with the help of this board. Managed to break a pattern of co-dependent relationships in my 40's and am now happily married to somebody who is not an alcoholic, drug addict, mentally ill and/or unemployed. It cost me a fortune in therapy fees but sanity has no price. Am now in a crisis because the recent BPD diagnosis of my 15 year old niece has set up unbearable inner conflict. My inner child says that the one thing that pains her beyond belief is the fact that the abuse still happens to other children. It makes her happy when I caretake and get them out of there. My adult self says that I am finally exactly where I want to be in my work and private life. BPD teenager is not a part-time occupation and my spouse is firmly against it. To give  up my career and create conflict in my home because people continue to violate children feels like re-victimization to me. Plus my parents are now in their late 70's and need a lot of care. I feel trapped. Emotional incest feels like exactly the right term because I feel invaded and overwhelmed and that triggers lots of childhood stuff I don't want to revisit. Thanks for listening to my long story! Would appreciate any insights you have to offer.
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« Reply #35 on: February 29, 2016, 12:08:25 AM »

 I experienced this from both parents. When I was 9, all of my siblings were placed into foster care and my mother was gone. I became "wife" to my father, I think this went on for a few months. He would talk to me at length about his problems, and I remember him asking me to take my clothes off. There was no rape, but lots of looking at and talking about my body.  I don't remember a lot about it, just flashes.

When my parents separated shortly after, I never saw my father again. My mother was left with 7 children to raise, and she has BPD. not a good combo.  I am the second eldest child, and eldest female. I became a little adult. I was expected to cook, care for siblings, and be responsible for them. This continued for a long time. Then, my mother started talking to me about all of her problems, big emotional talks with her barely able to function.  These would go on for hours. At 15 I got a job and helped out financially.

I always felt like I didn't have parents really. My needs were never a concern, I just kind of raised myself.  I turned out to be a giving, compassionate, caring, nice person, and that's good, but I think that a lot of people who are emotionally neglected weirdly turn out this way... .It has a lot to do with not really thinking about your own needs! I do resent my mother a lot, it was very unfair and hard to grow up so fast, and even today at age 71 she still wants me to rescue her, I hate it.


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« Reply #36 on: February 29, 2016, 04:44:10 AM »

Hi khibomsis

I had body issue images for years because as I reached puberty my body became a topic of public discussion at the family table and every new kilo or curve would be viewed with apprehension and the warning that I would never get a boyfriend. Most fortunately as lesbian I have never had that problem but of course I did not know that then Smiling (click to insert in post)

The way you were treated was very unpleasant and definitely emotionally incestuous and abusive. I am glad you still have a sense of humor though

She would gradually shift her responsibilities on to me, when I was 21 my younger brother, then 16, and my orphaned cousin, 17, came to live with me because my mom felt she could not deal with them. They of course were only too happy to leave and it did not occur to me that I was too young to be caring for two teenage boys. Have never really stopped fostering since, although I sometimes have a few good years in between troubled teenage children coming out of BPD home. As my two brothers started making children I am now fostering the second generation, more like a grandmother I guess. Not doing too badly at least with my younger brother and his second family I get to be an aunt rather than a parent and this gives me endless pleasure.

It was indeed also very inappropriate that you were made responsible for your younger brother and cousin. You were still very young yourself and taking care of two teenagers is a huge responsibility. I do see though that you played a very important role in their lives and now also with the next generation. You brought some stability to their lives, unfortunately this came at a price because you didn't ever real got the chance to be a kid and 'carefree' young adult yourself. Great to hear though that being an aunt gives you so much pleasure Smiling (click to insert in post)

How is your relationship now with your younger brother and cousin? And what kind of relationship do they now have with your mother?

My uBPD older brother and my mom still get upset that I am not adopting his three as fully as they would like, and guilt trip me about it between rages.   A few years ago this started really irking me since I reasoned that heterosexual women get a break sometime in their fifties and that I too deserved an empty nest syndrome Smiling (click to insert in post) So I am trying to set boundaries and have a life. Two years I took a stand and said: what's my name? She calls all of us out of our names and use the name of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc until one of us gets it and responds. So I have trained her a little, now she calls me "girl". Progress! This last Xmas holiday she was raging about me running away from home at 16, 37 years later this is still something that she and my UBPD older brother cannot let go of. I said: but it was my life. I had a right to decide what to do with it. My life is not about you. She gasped at this and is still struggling to deal with it. I guess that will be my boundary for 2016.

It's very sad and frustrating that your mother and older brother are still behaving in a problematic manner. Boundaries are indeed very important and I think it's great that you were able to stand up to your mom the way you did this Xmas Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

How it has affected me, well, I went into therapy at 37 with suicidal depression and PTSD. Have been in therapy on and off ever since though out now for almost two years with the help of this board. Managed to break a pattern of co-dependent relationships in my 40's and am now happily married to somebody who is not an alcoholic, drug addict, mentally ill and/or unemployed. It cost me a fortune in therapy fees but sanity has no price. Am now in a crisis because the recent BPD diagnosis of my 15 year old niece has set up unbearable inner conflict. My inner child says that the one thing that pains her beyond belief is the fact that the abuse still happens to other children. It makes her happy when I caretake and get them out of there. My adult self says that I am finally exactly where I want to be in my work and private life. BPD teenager is not a part-time occupation and my spouse is firmly against it. To give  up my career and create conflict in my home because people continue to violate children feels like re-victimization to me. Plus my parents are now in their late 70's and need a lot of care. I feel trapped. Emotional incest feels like exactly the right term because I feel invaded and overwhelmed and that triggers lots of childhood stuff I don't want to revisit. Thanks for listening to my long story! Would appreciate any insights you have to offer.

I can understand that being treated the way you were by your mother, could seriously affect you. You've worked hard these years on healing yourself and have clearly made a lot of progress, also when it comes to asserting yourself as evidenced by what you said to your mother at Christmas.

Do you perhaps feel like caring for other children/teenagers in a way is like caring for yourself? That by saving them you in a way are also saving the younger version of you who unfortunately didn't have loving stable parents?

Do you feel like you have come or are starting to come to a place of acceptance of what happened in your past?
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« Reply #37 on: February 29, 2016, 04:59:44 AM »

Hi nowitmakessense

I am sorry you too experienced emotional incest.

I became "wife" to my father, I think this went on for a few months. He would talk to me at length about his problems, and I remember him asking me to take my clothes off. There was no rape, but lots of looking at and talking about my body.  I don't remember a lot about it, just flashes.

That your father asked you to do this is something I find quite disturbing. Even if he would 'only' stare at and talk about your body, I personally consider this behavior more overt than covert incest. You don't remember a lot about it and only have flashes, but looking back at this now, how does it make you feel that your father behaved this way?

I always felt like I didn't have parents really. My needs were never a concern, I just kind of raised myself.  I turned out to be a giving, compassionate, caring, nice person, and that's good, but I think that a lot of people who are emotionally neglected weirdly turn out this way... .It has a lot to do with not really thinking about your own needs! I do resent my mother a lot, it was very unfair and hard to grow up so fast, and even today at age 71 she still wants me to rescue her, I hate it.

I can understand why you feel like you never really had parents. khibomsis said something similar in her post. You not only had to raise yourself but also be the caretaker of your siblings. How is your relationship with your siblings now? How do your siblings view your mother and father?

That point you make about not really thinking about your own needs and as a result being a very caring person in your adult life, is something I find very interesting. I too think there could definitely be a correlation here. How does the thought of having needs of your own make you feel now? Do you feel like you have become more able to be mindful of your own needs and put them first?
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« Reply #38 on: February 29, 2016, 07:43:39 PM »

I feel numb about my father.  I don't feel mad, or sad, or upset, I just have no emotion attached to what happened. It just is. Even though intellectually I know that it was very wrong, feelingwise there is just nothing.  There were other things that happened with him too, and again, I only remember flashes , but I'm starting to think that this is an area that I'm going to have to work on.  I do know that any sexual relationships I have has as an adult have been weird... .I just kind of freeze up.

My relationship with my siblings is superficial, I don't talk to them much.  One of my sisters has been diagnosed bi-polar, but I think it might be BPD -- she is "queenly" and narcissistic, and makes weird choices, has obsessive compulsive issues and hyperactivity.  My other sister married a woman, has anger issues, and is nice when she gets what she wants and a monster when she doesn't.  one brother is a drug addict and alcoholic, another is a workaholic with substance abuse issues, another is estranged from the family for 20 years. One brother is an extreemly successful doctor who works himself into the ground.  It's a mess. However, we all manage to hold down jobs and "function." We all live apart and have our own lives, rarely get together.

As far as my own needs now, really it has only been in the last little while that I have started to take care of them.  I think that is why I'm having the PTSD symptoms, my mind is finally at a place that is safe enough to start exploring what happened to me.  I get extreme anxiety saying no to my mother, so I'm just not talking to her right now, I can't deal with her. I am just trying to love myself and be happy.  Even with other people, when i say no to something i feel like i have to have this big reason why, like it's not ok to just say no.  But im saying no anyway Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2016, 12:20:05 PM »

Well asked, Kwamina ! My cousin became a heroin addict and died years ago. We were NC in the end because though I didn't like him using I absolutely hated him dealing. Dealing death to other people's children was not something I wanted to condone. I hear he was clean for a while before his death. ... The Dots are the point at which I had to sit with my feelings. I understand that one never gets over the death of a child. I never did. I also hear that a fresh loss triggers all the old ones.  Had to spend some time there weeping afresh over the mom I never had. The childhood I never had was actually something I had not thought to grieve – thank you! A little girl and her mother in the supermarket the other day being happy together which made me realize how I miss  the little niece I used to play with who has now been replaced with a )*^! manipulative BPD 15. My older brother moved back in with my parents 20 years ago and I often think he would have been better had he not. He sent his children down to me for long holiday every year so I have loved her since babyhood.

In the quiet after the storm I must honestly say I don’t know what acceptance is. I understand that codependency allowed me to hide behind the helper role. I guess the past few months seesawing between wanting to  charge in and take power and control over my niece’s recent diagnosis was co-dependent, while wanting my life to continue as it is was without disturbance probably a form of denial. That’s BPD twilight zone, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

So, focussing relentlessly on the positive:

My younger brother quietly admitted himself to rehab and clean now for years, lovely wife and family. We used to be marked by that parental child thing but most fortunately when I was suicidally depressed I was forced to lean on him for a while. So that relationship much better now, and we take turns being the strong one.  He tolerates my mom better than I, but of course one of the things which keeps me from going totally NC is the burden it would leave for the others. He shoulders a lot more of it than I do nowadays.

In fact it being suicidal was an interesting time all round, my dad stopped sleeping around somewhere about that time, apologized to me for what he had done and supported me financially for a few months until I was able to work again. It gave me faith in forgiveness. Maybe I need to learn from that that strong is not always the best way.


I have so much to learn, like when the niece as she is says she cuts to ask her how’s the dysphoria. To learn to read her communications. I reckon as long as we can end a conversation with 'I love you' and she can hear that and respond then we are good. Better chance for her than mom ever had, especially if I get out of her business and trust in her ability to heal herself.

Since her diagnosis older brother is trying harder to be a dad than he ever has in his life. So  I did something I hadn’t done in 20 years. I phoned him and said, scapegoat to good child: How are you? I don’t want to hear about your daughter, I want to know how you are coping? I am not giving up my life to carry your burden but I can listen to you sometimes and sympathize. He dysregulated because I laughed so I said brother I have cried enough.  And for the first time in 20 years we agreed on something.

Could this be the breakthrough part? Maybe you think?

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« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2016, 12:24:29 PM »

nowitmakessense, I too FOG  every time I say no. As long as we keep saying no regardless. And sometimes yes to life?
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« Reply #41 on: March 04, 2016, 11:01:36 AM »

Hi again nowitmakessense

I feel numb about my father.  I don't feel mad, or sad, or upset, I just have no emotion attached to what happened. It just is. Even though intellectually I know that it was very wrong, feelingwise there is just nothing.  There were other things that happened with him too, and again, I only remember flashes , but I'm starting to think that this is an area that I'm going to have to work on.  I do know that any sexual relationships I have has as an adult have been weird... .I just kind of freeze up.

It could very well be that the problems you are experiencing in your adult life are related to what you experienced in your childhood. These are difficult things to work through, yet very important for the healing process. If you are indeed able to set up online therapy sessions as you said in that other thread, perhaps you could explore these issues there too.

As far as my own needs now, really it has only been in the last little while that I have started to take care of them.  I think that is why I'm having the PTSD symptoms, my mind is finally at a place that is safe enough to start exploring what happened to me.  I get extreme anxiety saying no to my mother, so I'm just not talking to her right now, I can't deal with her. I am just trying to love myself and be happy.  Even with other people, when i say no to something i feel like i have to have this big reason why, like it's not ok to just say no.  But im saying no anyway Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

Being able to say no is an important part of setting and enforcing boundaries. Do you perhaps feel guilty when saying no? If so, these words from Pete Walker who has written about complex PTSD and children who have suffered childhood abuse might be helpful to you:

"Feeling guilty does not mean I am guilty. I refuse to make my decisions and choices from guilt; sometimes I need to feel the guilt and do it anyway. In the inevitable instance when I inadvertently hurt someone, I will apologize, make amends, and let go of my guilt. I will not apologize over and over. I am no longer a victim. I will not accept unfair blame. Guilt is sometimes camouflaged fear. – “I am afraid, but I am not guilty or in danger”."

Do you perhaps feel that the notion of it not being ok to say no, could be fear camouflaged as guilt?
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« Reply #42 on: March 04, 2016, 11:17:29 AM »

Hi again to you too khibomsis  

Well asked, Kwamina ! My cousin became a heroin addict and died years ago. We were NC in the end because though I didn't like him using I absolutely hated him dealing. Dealing death to other people's children was not something I wanted to condone. I hear he was clean for a while before his death. ... The Dots are the point at which I had to sit with my feelings. I understand that one never gets over the death of a child. I never did. I also hear that a fresh loss triggers all the old ones.  Had to spend some time there weeping afresh over the mom I never had. The childhood I never had was actually something I had not thought to grieve – thank you!

I am sorry your cousin's life turned out the way it did and ended so soon. Considering all that the two of you have been through, the bond you had and how you cared for him when he was a teenager, this really is a very significant loss.

Accepting and letting go of the parent we never had isn't easy so I understand your feelings. Letting go of the 'loving fantasy' parent and the childhood you never had, means accepting and mourning significant losses. This is tough and something I struggle with too. Are you familiar with our material about radical acceptance? You can read about it here: Practicing reality acceptance

I have so much to learn... .

We all do! Fortunately we can learn from each other here and help each other heal and move on

Since her diagnosis older brother is trying harder to be a dad than he ever has in his life. So  I did something I hadn’t done in 20 years. I phoned him and said, scapegoat to good child: How are you? I don’t want to hear about your daughter, I want to know how you are coping? I am not giving up my life to carry your burden but I can listen to you sometimes and sympathize. He dysregulated because I laughed so I said brother I have cried enough.  And for the first time in 20 years we agreed on something.

Could this be the breakthrough part? Maybe you think?

This sounds like an important turning point! A breakthrough in your relationship with your brother and in your healing process Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) What I see here is you asserting yourself, not walking on egg-shells and also not choosing to be in denial. I also see you starting to let go of certain things here and move on in a more constructive manner. You are facing reality head-on as it is Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Do you feel like your relationship with your brother has changed since you had this conversation with him?
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« Reply #43 on: March 05, 2016, 02:07:03 PM »

Thank you Kwamina! I am sorry to hear that you are also struggling with loss. I think some sorrows come and go, one would think one is over them and then something occurs to trigger and it feels like one is starting all over again. Intellectually I fully get it about radical acceptance - after all it is what it is and I am not going to change it by pretending it isn't- but don't know how to let myself feel it. I guess like many emotionally underdeveloped people I have managed to cope by intellectualizing everything. Whenever I am up against a situation where I actually have to feel my way through it is a challenge. Baby steps...

Nobody in FOO has dysregulated for almost a week! We are heading for some kind of world record here. I am using the break to practice what I am going to do. I think to ask very calmly what was the trigger? At least it may break the mould.
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« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2016, 01:47:37 PM »

In this thread we discuss the subject of emotional or covert incest. This is from the first post:

Excerpt
Emotional incest happens when the natural boundary between parental caregiver, nurturer, and protector is crossed and the child becomes the defacto caregiver, nurturer and protector of the parent. This typically occurs when a the marriage unravels or when there is a broken family dynamic (e.g., substance abuse, infidelity, mental illness and the dependency upon a child increases.  One or both parent may engage the child in talks about adult issues and adult feelings to a child as if they were a peer. The child may be called upon to satisfy adult needs such as intimacy, companionship, romantic stimulation, advice, problem solving, ego fulfillment, and/or emotional release. Sometimes both parents will dump on a child in a way that puts the child in the middle of disagreements between the parents - with each complaining about the other.

From the stories members have shared here, it becomes clear that some of you unfortunately have also experienced overt incest or sexual abuse. That can be a very difficult and triggering subject for people to talk about. Healing from over incest or sexual abuse requires certain resources outside of bpdfamily. What we can do however is help get the process started and direct you to appropriate resources. One of those resources was brought to our attention recently and I would like to share it with you:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

This is from their website:
"RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice."

The site provide several resources/tools to help with recovering from sexual abuse/violence:
Recovering from Sexual Abuse/Violence

You can also find the stories of other survivors of sexual abuse/violence there:
Survivor Stories

Take care

The Board Parrot
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