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Before you can make things better, you have to stop making them worse... Have you considered that being critical, judgmental, or invalidating toward the other parent, no matter what she or he just did will only make matters worse? Someone has to be do something. This means finding the motivation to stop making things worse, learning how to interrupt your own negative responses, body language, facial expressions, voice tone, and learning how to inhibit your urges to do things that you later realize are contributing to the tensions.
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Author Topic: I have become almost paralyzed with anxiety...  (Read 996 times)
Lalathegreat
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« on: January 03, 2018, 09:08:08 PM »

Brief background for the uninitiated: My UBPD ex is in jail serving up to 9 months (but probably more like 6 due to good behavior, putting him out mid-January) for beating me into the hospital.

Having been free of any contact for almost 6 months has allowed the FOG to lift (for the most part, I still find myself at times spinning my wheels wondering how I could have changed the outcome and going over and over certain conversations, arguments, events in my mind - but this has lessened), and while I am far from "well", I am getting better. But it's still very much in process, and it feels very fragile.

And now I'm weeks away from his release. I have never been more afraid. Not of him hunting me down to finish what he started. I have no doubt that he is afraid enough for his immigration status that he would not risk violating the criminal no contact order. But afraid because I know that he will be out there and he will be wanting payback of SOME kind. I'm afraid of the smear campaign.

I saw a glimpse in the court documents where he gives a statement that I had shown up uninvited to start an argument and that he had impulsively lost his temper. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but that doesn't matter. He is going to be out in the world telling everyone that *I* am the crazy one. And while I shouldn't care, I DO. Like a stereotypical codependent caregiver, I have spent my ENTIRE LIFE valuing kindness and trying to care for the people around me. I am working hard in therapy to understand why those patterns became so ingrained and to learn how to take care of myself by putting healthy boundaries on them. But D*MN it... .I'm a GOOD PERSON. I have built my ENTIRE LIFE around being kind and considerate. And he's going to be out there sh*tting on my character. After he beat me into the hospital. Because this f*cking relationship is the gift that keeps on giving.   And I care more than I want to admit about my reputation.

So ok - to a certain extent I have to accept that he is going to smear me to "his" people. Thankfully now that our relationship is over, we run in very different circles. I worry what he will tell his son (as me and his son were very close), I worry about how he will slander me to his son's Grandmother (who has custody of him and has been very gracious in allowing me some contact and closure), but generally I have come to accept the inevitability of that. However, I've become completely paranoid by what I've read about what BPD people are capable of in the wake of a messy breakup. What if he starts to track down MY people to "get back" at me?

It's probably not reasonable to be this anxious. But I am thinking about it constantly. I have lost my appetite again and am having trouble eating. I'm losing sleep, he's coming up in my dreams.

I've locked down social media blocking him and everyone on his friend list on FB and deleting my instagram and twitter accounts which I hardly used anyways. But aside from that I don't know what else to do to protect myself. And I've become OBSESSED with the idea of protecting myself.

So I'm here desperately seeking any counsel you can give me on either dealing with my panic, or how to better protect myself. Thanks in advance for talking me off the ledge!

Lala - the paranoid!

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itgetsbetter94
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2018, 09:36:48 PM »

Dear Lala, I hope that on some level you understand that your fear is irrational.  Even if you had a "normal" break up, you could still be sure that your people would hold your back against any possible smear campaign.  But, after what he has done, there is no way in hell that any sane person would take his side. You couldn't make up the concussion and the bruises on your face! He is a very dangerous individual, and after coming out of jail, I seriously doubt even his people will be lining up to be in his company, let alone your people. Please, you've been through enough, don't torment yourself this way. It's hard enough to live with the consequences of his actions and attack, don't above that very real pain, put paranoid expectations.
His son knows what he did, his grandmother knows what he did, YOU know what he did, people have eyes and brains-they saw what happened and know what happened.

You don't have to prove yourself and your kindness and integrity to anyone! Those closest to you, your people, would surely put their hands in fire for you.

Darling, you should be treating yourself kindly now and surround yourself with good, supportive friends. Let THEM put your mind at ease if my words aren't helpful.

I wish you all the best, you really deserved only the best people entering your life from now on!

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gotbushels
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 01:58:48 AM »

Hi Lalathegreat  

... .for beating me into the hospital.
I'm glad to see that you've been getting better.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

But afraid because I know that he will be out there and he will be wanting payback of SOME kind. I'm afraid of the smear campaign.
Something I learned is that while what happened in the past isn't a 100% indicator of the future of someone's choices, I learned that many people try to discount it--so it's not about ignoring it and *fingers crossed*, I think it's more about seeing it in the context of the choice of how you want this person to fit in to your life (if at all).

What this could mean for a caretaker is that this person could entice you by being sufficiently "messed up" that you are distracted by how much you can fix the person. Recall that caretakers may derive satisfaction out of being around the bumbling other party--yet fix nothing, and still get subconscious good feelings, sex, having someone etc. At that point, you want to not get drawn in, but stick with the bigger question of how you want this person to fit in to your life. I hope that helps.

From this, it makes sense that you'd be concerned with your reputation as you said here:
He is going to be out in the world telling everyone that *I* am the crazy one.
... .
And while I shouldn't care, I DO.
So it makes a heap of sense to me why you care and why you'd feel indignant at all these possibilities. So, naturally, I think it's helpful to ask yourself; Why do you doubt whether you care or not? Is it really that you don't want to be concerned with this? Maybe. And it's okay not to want to be bothered by something you don't want in your life.

Like a stereotypical codependent caregiver, I have spent my ENTIRE LIFE valuing kindness ... .And he's going to be out there sh*tting on my character. After he beat me into the hospital. ... .  And I care more than I want to admit about my reputation.
My read off this is that you are easily captivated by the idea that someone is out there trying to sully your reputation. That's okay. Reputation is paramount to some people.

However, I've become completely paranoid by what I've read about what BPD people are capable of in the wake of a messy breakup. What if he starts to track down MY people to "get back" at me?
I think some amount of nerves will come up when you see that you've dated a pwBPD. There are also heaps of outstanding ways to stay safe, in and out of a relationship--so hope of safety is there too.

It's probably not reasonable to be this anxious.
Well, I see some good reasons to be worried, and some good reasons not to be--if you're anxious, so be it. Read your feelings, then go forward.

I'd like to supportively suggest you adjunct these discussions with your T specially to deal with anxieties and panic. If your body is signalling you like you've said, it's a reason to speak to professionals about it.
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Fie
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 06:12:21 AM »

Dear Lala,


I usually post on the 'parents' board but I do read other posts sometimes and I thought I'd react. I have read a few of your posts in the past.

I have had relationships with BPD/NPD too. Never that violent, but I have had a lot of anxiety around them (parents, partners, boss), so I think I know what you are going through. Even though sometimes I *know* my fear is irrational, I cannot stop being afraid (very afraid even). Problem with BPD is that they are so unpredictable ... .you never know what to expect. The only thing you know, is that you can expect something.

So I understand your fears. Yes, they are irrational, but yes, everyone is concerned about his/reputation, no one wants to be the subject of a smear campaign.

Quick reality check though: this guy was in prison. In case you hear from other people he's been telling untruths about you, just 1 sentence from you is enough : 'He just got out of prison and he's crazy and dangerous'. No need even to go into detail, no need to JADE. Rest assured that *everyone* will know enough after hearing he was in jail.  Unfortunately for some of them, but people who went to jail do not get a lot of credit after that.  I studied criminology, and we learned that your life as you once knew it, is gone forever.

You are in a superior position then him now.

In *all* the areas of his future life, the fact of having gone to prison in the past will follow him. Literally no one will look at him in the same way as they did before. No one will take him serious anymore. They will not always tell him, but everyone will think the same : 'He went to prison, let's keep away from him as much as possible'.
(He will probably not link things together himself, he's BPD, so he was always a 'victim' anyway, and other people are the problem. So to his perception it will probably not make much of a difference.)

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Lalathegreat
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 07:40:42 PM »

Thank you all - I am feeling a little better today, though I can't promise for tomorrow or in an hour even. It seems to come and go in waves, reading your responses has been really helpful.

I did find myself wondering a bit why I find some level of "shame" in caring about my reputation. I think most people who try to conduct themselves in the world mindfully do! But I also know that when I dive into this rabbit hole with people, often the response that I get is "why do you CARE what HIS friends think? You don't know them, they don't know you, you will never meet them, so why does it matter?" And on some level they are right. Their opinion bares no impact on my life or future. But it still feels wrong. If there are going to be people in the world who believe I'm a bad person then I feel like I should at least DESERVE that. And I know that I don't.

I think one of the hardest parts of healing is the acknowledgement that I do hold SOME responsibility for this relationship. Believe me, I have been reminded by many people that I am not responsible for the abuse and most of the time when I'm not feeling guilty I get that. But as it was stated somewhere in another thread - healthy people don't stand for these unhealthy entanglements. I need to unravel my part in the dance to move forward for myself as a healthier person. But it becomes a slippery slope in a relationship like this one that became SO ABUSIVE. Because everyone from my therapist to my bestie want to tell me "how not my fault" all of this is. And then when I try to explain that I need to figure out why I couldn't grasp while I was in it, that they only way I could protect myself (not to mention protecting him from himself) was to leave - they try to talk me out of that reflection. "Oh no, he was manipulating you blah blah blah". So I'm left struggling to separate what is a healthy level of responsibility and what is FOG it often gets blurry.

But I digress - I'm way off topic now.

Fie - you hit on a key point and the root of all of the anxiety. "You never know what to expect. The only thing you know, is that you can expect SOMETHING." Yes, exactly this.  Even with a criminal no contact order I cannot imagine a scenario where it is actually OVER. Because it never was with him. He is pathologically incapable of not having the final say, the last word, the reassurance that he has somehow been HEARD and VALIDATED. And he cannot get that from me now. So I wait, I guess to see what happens. And who knows, maybe I'm just completely off base. Maybe he has had 6 months of separation from this event and I'm long in his rear view mirror. But somehow I just doubt it.

I think that a lot of this will resolve once he is out for a little while and the "world hasn't ended" as it were. Right now I have thoughts of false accusations and vicious personal attacks in my head that may well never take place. But until he's out there and everything is ok those "what ifs" will haunt me - although I do know they aren't necessarily rational.

Thank you everyone for your support. You are very appreciated!

Lala
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hope2727
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 11:15:26 PM »

Oh Lala I am so sorry you are going through this.

First let me say OF COURSE YOU ARE ANXIOUS! Who the heck wouldn't be after all you have been through. I think I would be on pins and needles and just about terrified to turn around in my own home if I endured what you did. So of course you are anxious.

Now one of the most amazing things about anxiety is that it is a physiological reaction that triggers a feedback loop in your body and thereby triggers more anxiety. Hence a vicious circle. However, often once the loop is started the physiological reaction will continue even if there isn't an actual threat present. Sometimes when this happens we look for a source for that anxiety and latch onto something to be anxious about even if it isn't particularly likely or accurate.

In your case you have a totally valid reason to be anxious. You were assaulted. You were caught completely unaware and assaulted. You are allowed to be anxious.

As for the smear campaign. It is going to happen. It is going to suck. You are going to eventually not give a darn.

Those who know you will not believe a word of it. Those who are stupid and irrelevant may believe him but who cares. Those who know neither of you will realize he served time for this assault and not give him much credibility.

So block him everywhere. Have several well rehearsed responses at the ready and be prepared just in case. And then go live your life.

Meanwhile hold your head high and know that you survived a horrible experience and are allowed to be anxious. With time it will pass. Pay attention to the physiological symptoms and lean into them. Notice your heart rate, your breathing, your heightened senses, your startle reflex, your sweating. Pay attention to them. Know they are there to protect you. Then take a deep breath and let it out and start to slow your breathing. Move your body (arms and legs) to circulate your blood. Stretch and release some body tension. Then assess the actual threat of there is one. Pat yourself on the back for protecting yourself and move on with your day.

As for you reputation. Just keep being your awesome self and those who cross your path will know your true worth. The rest of them can shove off.

I am thinking of you. Please keep posting . I worry about you.
   
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Moselle
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2018, 01:52:38 AM »

Lala, sorry to read of your anxiety. I have also been physically assaulted by my ex and recognise the pain and anxiety associated with it.

I also recognise the ebb and flow you and Fie refer to. It kind of creeps up on you.

As I try to deal with my own anxiety I've discovered  that excitement and anxiety have very similar physiological responses, the difference being that we interpret one as positive and the other as negative. And we can choose and change our perceptions as we experience the arousal.

I know it unreasonable to expect that you can change your negative perception of potentially interacting with your ex, but perhaps you can use the physiological response to get excited about a new hobby, project or relationship.

Almost a "bait and switch" in a positive direction.

All the best as you recover
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Fie
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2018, 07:01:08 AM »

Excerpt
I think one of the hardest parts of healing is the acknowledgement that I do hold SOME responsibility for this relationship. Believe me, I have been reminded by many people that I am not responsible for the abuse and most of the time when I'm not feeling guilty I get that. But as it was stated somewhere in another thread - healthy people don't stand for these unhealthy entanglements.


I actually also think that. But ... .try to see 'responsibility' for what it is. Responsibility here would mean responsibility to treat yourself in a gentle way. Drawing boundaries towards abusive behaviors is only part of that. Another part is not going to beat yourself up now because you'd think you were not 'responsible' enough and you 'caused' your own troubles. Maybe you were being raised as a caretaker. You are probably a very empathic person, otherwise your ex would not have choosen you as a partner. Most people are not empathic enough to hang around them for too long. So how about looking into that ? In this way you are actually already behaving in a very responsible way because you'd work on your own tendencies to let people treat you in a bad way.

Take your time to unravel things. You will get there. This is not something that can be done overnight.  You might also want to deal with your anxiety first. And I do btw understand why you care about how his friends think about you. For me it sometimes helps me that such things, I will never know. Maybe one of my neighbours is gossiping about me right now. It's perfectly possible. All of those people who know me, some like me and I'm sure don't. Some are really nice and don't like badmouthing others, some like to gossip. So it would be really strange if no one would gossip about me today. Thinking in such a way usually helps me to put everything in perspective.

Keep posting here and let us carry some of the responsibility together with you.
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gotbushels
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2018, 03:49:27 AM »

Hi Lalathegreat  

Thank you all - I am feeling a little better today, though I can't promise for tomorrow or in an hour even. It seems to come and go in waves, reading your responses has been really helpful.
I'm glad to see you're feeling better.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Because it never was with him. He is pathologically incapable of not having the final say, the last word, the reassurance that he has somehow been HEARD and VALIDATED.

... .

And he cannot get that from me now.
I think the non may be in the best position to have some kind of idea of the future actions of an ex. I did learn that many pwBPDs have difficulty not being heard and validated as you said. When I stopped this kind of thing with my ex, I got tempers and acting out. So it contributed to me expecting tempers and acting out.

So I wait, I guess to see what happens. And who knows, maybe I'm just completely off base. Maybe he has had 6 months of separation from this event and I'm long in his rear view mirror. But somehow I just doubt it.
I encourage you to work on a response plan. It helped me to have some kind of plan to handle a contact from my ex. I think this situation can be quite similar to yours. Rather than this being a tantrum example of mine (that requires a post-event plan itself), this can be similar in the way that you can use this time away from him to prepare in ways that look after yourself.

Fie - you hit on a key point and the root of all of the anxiety. "You never know what to expect. The only thing you know, is that you can expect SOMETHING."
I would see what I can do about this. Obviously, I'd certainly avoid being the one to initiate (not an issue for you) but at least have some idea of what that interaction is going to look like, and how it'll go.

Yes, exactly this.  Even with a criminal no contact order I cannot imagine a scenario where it is actually OVER.
As a member here, I do want to highlight this. The non is usually expected to be the "healthier" or more "able" one. The "caretaker". Therefore--I think in many ways--the non is expected to have a better idea of how "healthy" things are supposed to play out. Therefore--I think what you might want to consider is that if you "cannot imagine" an "OVER" scenario, how can you expect the pwBPD? If that's true, then I think the ball will be in your court to imagine what this is going to look like for yourself. I think imagining what this is like in your head is a step the right direction for you.

Have you thought of what you can do on a practical level?

Take care.
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hope2727
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2018, 12:50:14 PM »

Good morning Lala,

I am sitting in class not paying attention (the ADHD is strong with this one ). I have been thinking about things that helped my anxiety after both my divorce and after breaking up with my ex-fiancee. I have a few tidbits that might help. Bear in mind I come from a physical sciences background that leads me to physiological solutions. These don't suit everyone.

So a heightened physiological response to danger is normal and healthy. It saves our lives. In ancient times the threat (lest say a bear) appeared, our sympathetic nervous system became aroused and then we fought, fled, froze or fawned (sucked up) to protect ourselves and survive. Then the bear left (we fought her off and she ran, we fled to safety and she couldn't eat us, she didn't notice us as we froze in a shadow our of sight and she walked past, she thought we were cute and harmless and ignored us or adopted us and we now live in the wild and walk on all fours... .kidding) and the threat ended and our nervous system calmed down. Our heart rate returned to normal, blood started pumping to our gut and away from our long muscles, our pupils returned to normal size, we relaxed and the anxiety passed.

Now lets look at modern life. we head to a stressful work place that raises our threat level (sympathetic nervous system -SNS- ramps up), we drive through stressful traffic to be one time (SNS activates more), we deal with difficult people and have to not snap at them (SNS more activated) and on and on and on we just move from one stressor to another with out the threat/bear ever leaving. So our poor little SNS never ramps back down.

Here (after much research) is what I did to address this pattern.

1) I physically choose to fight or flee to the point of exhaustion thus discharging the adrenaline and other neuro-tranmitters that were building up in my body and reset my adrenal glands and brain chemically. I took up Judo briefly ... .it wasn't for me. Then I took a learn to run class. I was obese, have terrible knees, asthma and hate running. I plogged along with a fabulous group until I was able to do a 5Km then a 10Km then a ½ marathon. Running (away from the bear) discharged the chemical response to the stress/threat and totally reset me every time I went out.

2) I found a safe place to "freeze". This was leaving my office at lunch to walk in the local park, retreating to my bedroom at home with the door closed, shutting off phones for certain hours.

3) I found people I didn't need to fawn with who were safe to be around and nurtured me. I also admitted that I did fawn with bosses who were an ongoing threat.

I also ate a lot of chocolate and watched some movies and TV that spoke to me to numb out a bit. But pls don't numb out to much just enough to round off the worst edges.

Ok so this really helped physically discharge the biochemical part of the situation and that in turn resulted in the mental and emotional healing.

Some other small things that are funny but helped me were setting up a system safety with friends. I installed anti child "escape" locks on the house that make my doors burglar proof. I also used empty pop cans filled with pennies on top of each door knob at night (if the door opens the can falls and makes a terrible noise and wakes up the dogs). I alerted police to my concerns. I alerted neighbours to my concerns. I alerted work to my concerns. I alerted my psychologist to my concerns. I alerted friends to my concerns.  I got a male roommate (with a big man looking dog) and made him aware. I established a safety plan. I left an overnight bag at a friends house. I photocopied all my ID and left it at work with a trusted colleague. I left my will with her. I left my house and car keys with a friend. I left cash with a friend. I was ready for anything.

You are right to be anxious. You are right to be concerned. You are however, going to rock this out and be amazing. You will look back on this and shake your head and say "wow am I ever strong and non great shape now from all the running (or whatever). He is such a loser. I am so glad I have become such a winner. Bring it on world.
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Moselle
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2018, 09:01:53 PM »


Here (after much research) is what I did to address this pattern.

1) I physically choose to fight or flee to the point of exhaustion thus discharging the adrenaline and other neuro-tranmitters that were building up in my body and reset my adrenal glands and brain chemically. I took up Judo briefly ... .it wasn't for me. Then I took a learn to run class. I was obese, have terrible knees, asthma and hate running. I plogged along with a fabulous group until I was able to do a 5Km then a 10Km then a ½ marathon. Running (away from the bear) discharged the chemical response to the stress/threat and totally reset me every time I went out.

2) I found a safe place to "freeze". This was leaving my office at lunch to walk in the local park, retreating to my bedroom at home with the door closed, shutting off phones for certain hours.

3) I found people I didn't need to fawn with who were safe to be around and nurtured me. I also admitted that I did fawn with bosses who were an ongoing threat.


Hope thanks so much for sharing this. I have only recently realised that anxiety is a problem for me. I look forward to trying some of these ideas!
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Lalathegreat
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2018, 11:56:34 PM »

Good evening friends, I just had the longest ever Saturday - haha!

At any rate, I will reply with more later (I'm ready to fall into bed right now!), but I wanted to real quickly post a thank you to all who have added to this thread over the past couple days. So many really wonderful thoughts and suggestions that I am anxious to try. I am so grateful for all of your support!

Lala
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