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How to communicate after a contentious divorce... Following a contentious divorce and custody battle, there are often high emotion and tensions between the parents. Research shows that constant and chronic conflict between the parents negatively impacts the children. The children sense their parents anxiety in their voice, their body language and their parents behavior. Here are some suggestions from Dean Stacer on how to avoid conflict.
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Author Topic: The black hole analogy  (Read 1428 times)
yeeter
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« on: January 09, 2018, 06:40:02 AM »

This is one of my favorites, and I have reminded myself of it over and over.  Simply a reminder to prioritize your own needs and not throw 'everything' down a black hole that cannot be filled:

Imagine walking into your backyard one day and discovering a deep hole in the ground--so deep you can't see the bottom.  The hole looks dark and menacing.  You really, really don't like this hole in your yard.  You decide the answer is to fill it up.  

So, you go into your garage and see an old bike.  You think, I used to like this old bike, but I don't mind losing it if it takes care of that hole.  So you throw your bike into the hole, where it vanishes without a trace.  But the hole is still there.  So, you go get all of your old favorite books from the house, and toss them in too.  They disappear, but the hole remains.  Soon, your DVD collection, computer games, musical instruments, and all the "frivolous" things in your house go down that hole, but nothing helps, the hole is as deep as ever.  Increasingly distressed, you can start to toss more important things down the hole too.  Work tools, money, foods, and, eventually, friends and family members, all vanish down that hole.

Eventually, all you have is an empty, lonely house with a big hole still in the back yard.

The day you decide to stop trying to fill that hole with important things from your life is the day you have decided to start taking care of yourself.    

My point is that giving up your hobbies, passions, work and relationships will not "change" your partner or fill the emotional hole in them. You really, really can't "make" them be happy or whole or anything else.
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pearlsw
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 06:46:21 AM »

Hi yeeter,

What led you to feel this way may I ask? Why was it so hard to take care of yourself?

Personally, I like to help others feel happy if I can, but I have never once in my life felt personally responsible for another person's happiness so this is interesting to hear and I know many people feel this way.

Did you give up a lot of hobbies in your relationship? Lose parts of yourself? What do you do to reclaim that if so?

wishing you peace, pearlsw.  
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Walk on a rainbow trail, walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail. - Navajo Song
yeeter
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 06:58:07 AM »

Hi Pearlsw.   

I was simply reflecting on some of the things that helped me in the past, and this one was an analogy that stuck out over the years.

Yes, for sure I kept giving things up.  Friendships.  Time with family.  Certain hobbies.  Various activities that I would let slip, in the interest of appeasing my wife and fitting into her model of what she did or did not want me to do. 

What led me to do it?  Tricky question to fully understand.  First, fear.  Of the outbursts and verbal barrage if I did something she did not approve of.  Then also combined with my own tendency to put others first - in a bad way.  Codependency category I would say - defining too much of my own sense of self by others approval.

An unhealthy dynamic to be sure, and one that is much less over the years. 

But it took time to first recognize the behavior.  And then realize is was hugely unhealthy and destructive to my own sense of self.  And then finally stop doing it.  In other words, own my own part.

This analogy has always resonated with me, so simply re-posting in case it helps someone else.


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Notwendy
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 07:10:13 AM »

Yeeter, I think you have touched on something when you mention fear. It is not really about making someone happy or helping bring happiness into their lives. It is actually not about them as much as it is our own fear.  When we appease or walk on eggshells, it is a way to manage our own fears, not to help them.

I think we can fool ourselves into thinking we are being the giving ones here. When we do something nice for someone- it is a gift with no strings. We enjoy seeing someone happy. But when we appease and walk on eggshells, we are fearful, not giving.

I used to think I was being kind and self sacrificing but once I could see this as fear driven, I could see this as being self centered. This made it easier to stay with boundaries.
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pearlsw
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"Be kind whenever possible, it is always possible"


« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 07:11:02 AM »

Hey yeeter, right back atcha!  

Thanks for your reply! I know it is meant in the spirit of Improving... .May I ask what specific things you did to grow and change on this issue? I imagine recognizing it is one thing, but then what? Smiling (click to insert in post) How did you change your responses? Did you feel weird or awkward or like something was missing as you made these changes? How hard, fast, easy, slow, possible was it to change?

 
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Walk on a rainbow trail, walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail. - Navajo Song
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 03:38:20 PM »

Hey there, Yeeter!  Good to see you around here again (I haven't been around much myself lately).  I recall you have posted the black hole analogy before - seems like a long time ago, and I just wanted to say thanks for re-posting it because it has been very helpful for me over the years since I first saw it. 

When I am tempted to figuratively throw one more piece of my life down that black hole, these days I think back to this analogy and refuse to throw anything else in there. 

My old blues band is lost down in that hole somewhere, as are all of my old friends from childhood, high school, and college... .some day I may just see if I can fish a few of those things back out of that hole.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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yeeter
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 03:56:09 PM »

Hey there, Yeeter!  Good to see you around here again (I haven't been around much myself lately).  I recall you have posted the black hole analogy before - seems like a long time ago, and I just wanted to say thanks for re-posting it because it has been very helpful for me over the years since I first saw it. 

When I am tempted to figuratively throw one more piece of my life down that black hole, these days I think back to this analogy and refuse to throw anything else in there. 

My old blues band is lost down in that hole somewhere, as are all of my old friends from childhood, high school, and college... .some day I may just see if I can fish a few of those things back out of that hole.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Hi Wrong,   

Many of those things are not lost forever.  Just dig down into that hole and pull them out.  It is definitely possible.  Empowering even, in that it can be good therapy for reversing some past mistakes. 

 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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yeeter
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 04:05:39 PM »

Hey yeeter, right back atcha! 

Thanks for your reply! I know it is meant in the spirit of Improving... .May I ask what specific things you did to grow and change on this issue? I imagine recognizing it is one thing, but then what? Smiling (click to insert in post) How did you change your responses? Did you feel weird or awkward or like something was missing as you made these changes? How hard, fast, easy, slow, possible was it to change?

 

Great questions.  Recognizing definitely a big first step.  Then a determination to stop doing it (not always easy to do but it has to start with intent).

Then I think the biggest thing was, just doing it (put the filter on to all the outcry, and hold your own course).

An example:  Since before I could legally drive I have ridden motorcycles.  When I got married, I sold the motorcycle (along with some other stuff, a car, furniture, etc) due to my wifes desire for these things to be gone.

But then once I started recovering my own sense of self again, one day I went out and bought another motorcycle.  Definitely there was an outburst and complaining, etc.  But I didnt ask.  I didnt talk about it before hand.  I just went and did it and announced it after the fact.  Done deal.  No apologies.  After a while she just accepted it.  And at the same time, accepted the fact that I may do something without her 'permission'.

Later on I sold that motorcycle (may get another one someday).  Again I didnt discuss or even mention it until after the fact.

The more of this type of behavior I did, the easier it became.  And none of it was crazy irresponsible (I wasnt out drinking and partying it up with others, just simple solo rides to meet previous friends I grew up with in a difft state - so served double duty to reconnect with old friends - by myself).  I knew I was being rational and responsible so it didnt really matter what my wife thought.

That is one example.  Just do it.

It took years to slowly add these type of things back in, and I am still working on it to this day.

I think at the same time I had to change my own beliefs on what a relationship is.  In the past I would have said such a decision would be shared with your partner and financial and risk factors discussed, to consider how both sides feel about it and make a balanced decision.  But given that 'balance' isnt possible in this type of relationship, that doesnt work.  So I have to be much more independent about decision making.  My first impulse is that is the wrong direction for a relationship (my prior model would be to share more and more, not less and less, so it seems directionally backwards to me, but in practice works better)

A valuable question, I will consider if I can come up with more examples of how to change your attitude and approach.



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5xFive
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 05:37:13 PM »

I think at the same time I had to change my own beliefs on what a relationship is.  In the past I would have said such a decision would be shared with your partner and financial and risk factors discussed, to consider how both sides feel about it and make a balanced decision.  But given that 'balance' isnt possible in this type of relationship, that doesnt work.  So I have to be much more independent about decision making.  My first impulse is that is the wrong direction for a relationship (my prior model would be to share more and more, not less and less, so it seems directionally backwards to me, but in practice works better)


Yeeter,

This really resonates with me. I too feel as though I should share more and more with my uBPDh. We’re married, he should know what I’m thinking or decisions I’m working through etc. but gosh, involving him makes everything so complicated. And 9 times out of 10, he’ll get mad at me and start raging simply due to a misunderstanding.

I often feel as though I’m throwing myself into that black hole, not just my hobbies and relationships... .
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 10:42:44 AM »

My point is that giving up your hobbies, passions, work and relationships will not "change" your partner or fill the emotional hole in them. You really, really can't "make" them be happy or whole or anything else.

This metaphor is an apt description of my first marriage. I was too young and inexperienced when I got together with him. Trying to make him happy, I let go of nearly every thing that was important to me and tried to be someone I wasn't, hoping to keep the peace. Of course, that was a fruitless endeavor.

When I got out of that marriage, I did therapy and something my therapist said was "We've got to create a self for you."

Up until that time, I had spent all my life catering to people I loved with BPD, first my mother, then my husband.

FOO patterns are deeply ingrained and years later I ended up marrying a man I believed to be my soulmate, only to discover he was yet another pwBPD. I'd known him for years as a friend and I knew him to be a kind and honorable man, but discovering the BPD was a shock.

This go-around I was much better prepared not to "throw my self away" down the black hole. I've allowed myself to be myself and I haven't compromised my values. I give myself permission to not attend events he enjoys that I really don't like, such as going to see "jam bands" or watching sports on TV.

At first, he tried to "convince" me that I'd enjoy something I knew I wouldn't. But now I'm unwavering about things I know from previous experience that make me feel like I'm "wishing my life away, hoping it would be over soon." I do try and stay mindful about things I don't know and am willing to try new things.

And when he has tried to pressure me to attend something I don't like, I reply with my best Southern Grandma's extremely polite version of "F* you." And he realizes that I'm not going to back down.
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 12:15:01 AM »

Yeeter, I learned the hard way. 

I was more than 10 years into a marriage with my uBPD/uBPD H. 

He would dysregulate and explode with no provocation.  He made his children into his best friends and enmeshed them.  His children started to lobby him to divorce me in a very unhealthy Oedipus/Electra way.

I slowly began to understand that something was very, very wrong.  The emotional violence and dysregulating were causing me to be depressed.  Upon examination of his FOO, I learned his father was uNPD and his mother was enabling.  I would analyze the subtle interactions of my in-laws and found out why H is such an emotional mess.

H used all kinds of tactics on me:  rage, gaslighting, raging, passive/aggressive, withholding affection, you-name-it.  He still does, but I don't get sucked into the drama.

My best tool is disengaging and not being sucked into an argument.  pwBPD/NPD are addicted to drama and get a "high" from engaging their partner.  I just don't get into it.  I usually make light of what he is raging about and leave the room.  I treat him like the emotional toddler that he his.  Usually he will pout for a few hours or a day, and then return to "normal"--that is, until the next trigger.

I no long allow him to "approve" of what I do or allow him to "disapprove" of it.   

I agree that you can "pull out" things thrown into the black hole.   I am now the happy person I once was and H no longer dictates what he allows to make me happy. 

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