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Author Topic: Fleas  (Read 196 times)
bravhart1
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« on: January 04, 2017, 02:22:42 PM »

Any ideas Thought on how to best help DH understand about "fleas"?

In him, with his interactions with me, and in his interactions with SD8, and hers with all of us. Mom seems to have had a pretty robust strain of fleas she passed on to people around her.

It's hard for me to put a finger on it, but I'm just sure I'm living with them.

Thanks for the help!
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livednlearned
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2017, 04:17:46 PM »

By fleas, do you mean BPD traits?
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bravhart1
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2017, 10:35:25 PM »

I think so? But not in the terms of actual BPD qualities, just like the dysfunctional way you interact with people after you have been so used to interacting with someone who was dysfunctional.

 Like if you lived with someone with BPD, and they made you conform due to their illness, then you were around functional healthy people and you responded like you did with the pwBPD, you would most likely be making that person either uncomfortable, or irritated because you were treating them like they were ill, or responding inappropriately.

I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I think you get me?

With SD, she interacts with people like she did with her mom, but because she likes to be in control. She will respond to get a rise, or make you explain yourself. At eight, most adults aren't too keen to having a child push their buttons. She is making the school personel nuts.
It's like she is trying to make the people around her respond the way her mom did. But it doesn't work in a mannered world, it makes her look very manipulative and ill mannered.

She def has BPD traits, but she is way too emotionally immature to be able to reach.

I'm not sure how to discribe it, but I want to try to figure out what it is, because I think it's going to be the key to changing the dysfunction in her.
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2017, 11:26:37 PM »

I see fleas with my SO and his daughters too.  Here is a recent example my SO were just talking about yesterday...

He took D15 to the Mall and she wanted to go to a costume jewelry store and he didn't want to go.  He told her to go ahead and he would go to another store and meet her in a few minutes. She says "you're abandoning me! (FOG!) Which triggers him...he gets defensive...then angry.  This led to him to some Jading before heading off to the other store.

Her words literally the deepest fear of her BPD mother...Dad's response just how he used to react to his uBPDxw.  So yes the dysfunctional dynamics reappear.

I told him I would have said yes, I'll see you in a few minutes and would have gone to the other store.

The general behaviors...D15 emotionally needy & attention seeking, D20 passive/agressive & parents her sister, SO frequently JADES.  There is more but you're right it can often be something subtle.

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livednlearned
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2017, 12:42:02 PM »

I just finished reading James Masterson's book "In Search of the Real Self," one of the first to theorize how personality disorders develop (the book came out in 1990, I believe).

It is helpful because it explains in laymen's terms what happens when self-activation, or individuation, or development of the "real" self is inhibited for whatever reason (he says having no "real" self and a strong "false" self is the foundation for personality disordered behavior). I think it's relevant because it sort of explains the family pathology, involving multiple players, when there are "fleas."

According to Masterson, people who are emotionally vulnerable (nature) may be more susceptible to develop personality disorders, especially when there is a primary caregiver who desperately does not want the child to separate (nurture), add to that some kind of separation event (fate) that tests the child's emerging self, which, if the emergence of the real self is not adequately supported, leads to dysfunctional coping mechanisms of the false self taking over. We all know what those coping mechanisms can look like. 

Part of the dysfunctional nurture piece is having a codependent parent who won't set limits with a child who has a weak sense of self. It's like the pathology of being paired with a BPD spouse gets played out with the child. Limits are anxiety-producing for the codependent parent, and the child of someone with BPD feels anxiety about having those limits too. Meanwhile, having limits is part of individuation, so the child both wants and resents the limits. So the two support the pathology of BPD in ways that don't look as devastating, while managing to keep the pathology going.

What I see with SO is that his codependent traits undermine D19's attempts to self-individuate and deal with the anxiety she feels about separation, not just physical separation but separation as a concept. SO isn't actively preventing her from developing a healthy self in other ways, but by giving in to (what seems like her chronic) distress, he fans the pathology instilled by her mother. That distress is based on the belief that separation (activation of the self) is somehow linked to devastating abandonment. When in fact, working through the abandonment is about her learning to separate from others in a healthy way so her real self can emerge.

I know SO cannot fix this, it will take a lot of therapy. He certainly isn't helping, though, when he solves problems for D19 that she is capable of handling. For one, I think a 19 year old can figure out that if she buys canned beans, she will need a can opener  . She is denied the satisfaction of learning that close others believe she is capable, and she denies herself the satisfaction of learning that she is capable.

Plus, when D19 is needy or clingy, she's enacting the dysfunctional dynamic where being "good" (a definition her mom conditioned in her) means don't separate from mom, cling to mom, need her at the expense of figuring out what makes her different -- and when SO rewards that needy behavior (as it swings toward him), it confirms for D19 that she is good, reinforcing that separation from a parent is somehow bad or wrong. She is now starting to try this with me.

D19 is like your SD, maybe worse -- if her dad sits too far on the couch it triggers abandonment. I need an emoticon with rockets coming out of its head to express how I feel about that level of neediness. That's my stuff, tho. Seeing that dynamic is like setting off a fire alarm that only I can hear. If I point it out, SO acts a little like I'm the one causing the commotion.

To your question about how to communicate the fleas to your SO, I have no good answers. I'm trying different things, using a lot of the skills I learned here on him, like validation, coaching, staying out of the drama triangle, having strong boundaries, putting my needs front and center.

One example: D19 texts SO when she feels lonely, and I try to gently coach him to set the phone down and let D19 work through it. By coaching, I mean saying maybe D19 needs to work through this. Or, "Is this something that can wait? Maybe in 30 minutes she will be able to come up with a solution on her own, and feel good about herself for solving it independently."

I figure SO goes through some kind of separation anxiety with D19 himself.

Any sign of distress from her (which is daily), he is there dictating solutions. Instead of letting her experience the feelings of confronting life situations that produce so much anxiety, coaching her to come up with a solution, and letting her experience the feeling of handling her own problems. I have to be gentle otherwise he can't hear me. Or he nods his head and I can see he is just trying to make it through the moment, without really taking it in.

What seems tricky for us as partners is that we have this clear vantage point where we can see the pathology, being outside the dynamic. I see how we can be emotional leaders. I'm just not clear on how much is too much, and what things to hand off to a therapist.

I keep thinking if I say it the right way, if I explain it just so, if I am patient enough and compassionate enough in saying it, that SO will come to understand the dynamic. I did that with my BPDx about his drinking problem and that got me nowhere.

It may be that we have to deal with the fleas when they directly touch us, and model how that's done? I wish giving speeches was effective  grin Or lectures  cool
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2017, 08:54:02 PM »

Hi livednlearned! Thanks for this explanation. It helps with a situation I am seeing with DH and SS22. Because SS22 has special needs, DH used to tend to do everything for his son. I have tried to set the example of saying "what do you think?" when SS22 asks a question I think he can answer. And I have stuck with SS22 when he is learning something so now DH can see more of his capabilities. DH has gotten better at not jumping in with solutions.

But when it comes to clingy behaviour, DH lets SS22 get away with it. He'll let SS22 squeeze between the arm of the couch if I am on the other side or let him lay across him. When I try to discuss it with DH later, he thinks I am overreacting. Maybe even thinks I am jealous.

I am not sure I have any solutions to how to get DH to understand but your answer helps me realize my instincts were correct. I will keep trying to help him see there are better ways for him to show he cares.
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bravhart1
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2017, 12:17:24 AM »

Wait, lecturing doesn't help? Oh no! grin

Just kidding, we all know I can be opinionated and a big believer in change. I want everyone fixed now!

Thanks for your help and experiences, I appreciate the feedback. I  Keep trying to find a definite incident to describe my situation. I'll keep trying...
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Panda39
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2017, 07:00:24 AM »

"Plus, when D19 is needy or clingy, she's enacting the dysfunctional dynamic where being "good" (a definition her mom conditioned in her) means don't separate from mom, cling to mom, need her at the expense of figuring out what makes her different -- and when SO rewards that needy behavior (as it swings toward him), it confirms for D19 that she is good, reinforcing that separation from a parent is somehow bad or wrong. She is now starting to try this with me."

This is really insightful I see this with my SO's D15 she tries it with her dad and he gets exhausted/frustrated (she registers this as angry) by it. It's hard for her because she's doing what she has been taught by her mom and dad doesn't play by the same values, he wants to see her independent/self confident not constantly reaching out to him for emotional re-assurance .  It's a tough thing to deal with for dad because you don't want to enable but you also don't want to make her feel rejected. D15 is diagnosed with PTSD and is very sensitive she absolutely cannot tolerate having someone angry (perceived or real) but maybe she is just going to have to learn to tolerate it.  In the real world she certainly is going to need to learn these lessons.

"Wait, lecturing doesn't help? Oh no! grin

Just kidding, we all know I can be opinionated and a big believer in change. I want everyone fixed now!"


bravhart1, this just cracked me up  grin ...we are soo cut from the same cloth!

Panda39
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