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Author Topic: Co parenting and, letting go, and finally breaking the trauma bond  (Read 354 times)
Sweetpea18

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« on: May 10, 2019, 06:22:56 PM »

Hello Everyone, It's been a while, but I have been struggling with some things so I thought I would come for some advice.  My ex (UNPWBPD) and I have an "ok" relationship.  I will admit, that for the last few months we have gotten along better than we almost ever had.  Although our divorce was final in February, we were able to make "amends" in January, after I helped her recover from some plastic surgery.  Prior to January, she was heavily involved with another man, and her and I didn't have much contact, except during child exchanges and schedule discussions and things like that.  However, also during that same time with that man, she would continuously charm my by trying to kiss me, tell me she loves me, etc.  During January, and up to about the first week of April, she told me that she was on a break from the new guy.  She and I had decided to be friends and during this time we got along fairly well.  Yes, we blurred the lines a bit, and were intimate.  However, I thought (ignorantly I must admit) that we could just hang out and do stuff with our child and that I could and she could be ok with it.  Our child was thriving, we would hang out on occasion and do family things, but in my mind I had no desire to truly reconcile, and I told her this.  My ex also has some comorbid NPD, and is very histrionic.  She is a very beautiful woman, and we have/had incredible physical chemistry.

I have learned that some of that is the trauma bond infiltrating my mind, and all that goes with that.  We were both very enmeshed (I would say me more than her at the end).  However, it is very hard to be around her and not be affectionate towards one another. She told me (more I deduced) that her and the guy she was with late last year were dating again, which is her right, and I appreciated her honesty.  I realized at this point, internally, I had allowed myself to enmesh a bit and realized this is/was going to be a withdrawal for me.  She told me that she didn't want it to affect our "connection", but I didn't see how that was possible.  I often feel that she looks to me for emotional "grounding".  Even dating other men, she would still need to call me to pray with her, or to talk to her about things.  I would do it, as any trauma bonded empath is geared to.  However, I have become much more enlightened, and I realize that I'm being used (Although I was allowing it, and to a certain degree).  I naively thought I could have and "friends with benefits" relationship with her and not get enmeshed, I was wrong.  I realize that toxic is toxic, no matter how you quantify it.  I also know that I like that we have been getting along better and are light years ahead of where we were when we were newly divorced.

The issue is that I know, I have to have as close to no contact (NC) as possible to really finally get over this hump.  However, she continues to this day, to charm, she wants to still see me, wants to still have "family outings" with our child, but is a relationship with another man, who I know has no idea.  The last week, I told her no more calls to pray, no more family things right now because I dont want to confuse my child, but I also want to get some distance, so I can really heal.  I'm healing, but I think it would be much faster with more limited contact.  However, she would be ok with us doing things, and I think it is because she wants to have control over me, she wants to still be involved in my life somehow.  I guess my question is, how do I co parent with someone who has zero boundaries (in fairness, I didn't enforce the ones I should have, and was willing participant in crossing them myself, so I'm not a victim), and yet still get along?  She is very good at using our child for "triangulation".  Meaning I get calls and requests from my four year old and it's "I miss you dad, come over with me  and mommy" and stuff like that.  I don't understand, if my ex is in a relationship, why does she want me around?  Just leave me alone, I don't call her anymore, don't text her anymore.  I'm cordial and respectful and we don't really fight much if at all.  She loves(ed) to fight all the time, I think she thrived on chaos.  I haven't seen her in 2 weeks, as our child exchanges are now done at school, so we dont have see each other unless we want to.  But she would like me to come visit her and our child and hang out, but I know I cant.  It's time for us both to cut the cord...will this end? Will she eventually quit charming and asking and us be able to just exist in mutual respect.  How do I stay strong?  When were around each other, it's "electric" and addictive...
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livednlearned
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2019, 09:03:17 AM »

People with BPD tend to have an extraordinary drive to fuse and merge with others, which is not a sustainable feeling because people are by nature separate.

She probably has a relationship with the guy that waxes and wanes (which is normal) and multiple men provide additional solace during whatever emptiness or nothingness she desperately wants to avoid feeling when one guy is occupied or absent.

The other guy might be at work, or he doesn't respond to a text immediately, or he walked into the next room. You are right there to fill that void so she isn't alone, even if it's only temporary.

I admire how much responsibility you are taking for your own actions and feelings. Do you have a therapist supporting you through this? It's hard to disentangle from someone when you desire the very thing you're trying to heal from.
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Sweetpea18

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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2019, 05:52:31 PM »

Yes I see a therapist. We have a very strong chemistry, and I’m
Not sure about her current dating situation. I don’t desire her, or a relationship with her. I could have “reconciled” with her many times, she wanted that, although I don’t think she really does. I just think she wants to hurt me the way she feels I intentionally hurt her by leaving. She is ok with chaos, I am not. But she talks about wanting, needing stability, it appears she has that with new guy, why not just leave me alone?
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2019, 10:37:01 PM »

Things will continue the way they are until you continue to be firm with boundaries.  Given your child, this is tricky.  It's more complicated by your chemistry. To be blunt, this sounds like you're telling us this isn't all her.  There's a decision to be made by you.  You need distance to work out your feelings apart from her.  I don't see this as nefarious on her part. If she's BPD, she will seek out whoever can soothe her unstable emotions and augments. 

My ex asked to come back after almost three years after leaving me for another dude.  She wanted a safe landing, missed our kids despite joint custody.  That was about her. Not me. Not our kids. Her.

I did too much together as a family. I chose to enter her orbit, and do things according to her desires,  and to some extent the kids.  5 years later, if she moved in tomorrow,  the kids would be overjoyed.  No matter a step dad,  they still, at 7 and 9, desire their view of a home. This isn't about them.  This is about me.  This is about you.  I've struggled about making it about me over 5 years here.  It needs to be about you in order to be Healthy for tYou,  and also your child. 
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Sweetpea18

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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2019, 10:49:36 AM »

I will agree, I was not firm on my boundaries. Every time I tried, she would want to do things together as a family with our child, and I would think it’s better for a child to do that, but even so I did that it would set me back. Even now she would like to still do things together and can’t understand why we can’t, I tried to explain it to her, but she doesn’t seem to understand my perspective I will agree, I was not firm on my boundaries. Every time I tried, she would want to do things together as a family with our child, and I would think it’s better for a child to do that, but even so I did that it would set me back. Even now she would like to still do things together and can’t understand why we can’t, I tried to explain it to her, but she doesn’t seem to understand my perspective.

 Our child would love nothing more for us to continue to do things together, but I don’t  I think she understands What is happening, so I have gone pretty much no contact for the last three weeks, in an attempt to finally distance myself all the way.
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2019, 11:21:19 AM »

Hey there, Sweetpea18. You’ve gotten some sage advice here. I know that you’ve been away for a while, and I’d like to suggest that you stay with us on a regular basis. I think that you’ll benefit more from that rather than talking here only when there is a crisis or problem. We’d like to visit with you more often.

You mentioned the lines getting blurred when you described hanging out with your ex. I get it. Things can become complex when children are involved. Be sure to be mindful that the lines don’t become blurred for your child. He/She needs to know what healthy boundaries look like. What you are willing to accept, your child will, one day, accept. Our kiddos are little sponges. My Son is only 4, but I can see it already.

It sounds like you have a little more detaching to work on. I do as well. Like I said, stick with us. Your story helps everyone here.
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worriedStepmom
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2019, 07:32:30 PM »

I think my non-BPD ex and I have a healthy coparenting relationship.  We sit together as a family at all of the children's extracurricular events.  We have friendly chats during pickups/dropoffs.  We sit down together as a family to handle major disciplinary events.  We don't socialize together.  We don't take the kids out to dinner together or anything like that.  (I do have an excellent relationship with my former mother-in-law; we've taken trips together.)

We've been divorced almost 9 years.  It took us years to get to this stage.

When we first divorced, our kids were under 5, and we tried doing more "family" things.  It was bad for each of us adults, and also bad for the kids.  They were VERY confused, and it gave them unrealistic hopes that mom and dad might be getting back together.  Even joint birthday parties were hard, so after the first year, we stopped that.

Kids want their parents together, but at this stage they need support to do the emotional work of accepting their new family structure.  When you are fully healed, then you can decide if you want to spend more time together.

No contact or very limited contact is the easiest way to start to detach from her.  Hopefully your therapist also has some ideas.
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Sweetpea18

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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2019, 09:21:41 PM »

Yes, I definitely think I need to stay more in touch, I just figured that I had a handle on things, I am almost feel like I “relapsed “in the sense that I was moving forward and then we were getting along, and we still get along, the issue is with me not with her, that’s the hard part, she has no problem asking our daughter to ask me to come over to visit them, to do things with them, so I feel guilty because I know she’s using our daughter to triangulate me, but I cannot have a discussion with her about that because she’s super defensive and her BPD issues kick in.

I think I’m still rectifying the end of my marriage, in the fantasy of my life that I thought I would have, truthfully I never really wanted to get divorced, I just wanted her to be normal, but I realized even a year later, nothings really changed, nothing about our life together would change, and the same issues would exist, however, I did really love her, and I think I really loved who she represented to me, I’ve come to realize with all my distance and counseling and reading up on it I realize that she never loved me the way I loved her cause I don’t think she’s capable of it.
 I think I’m still rectifying the end of my marriage, in the fantasy of my life that I thought I would have, truthfully I never really wanted to get divorced, I just wanted her to be normal, but I realized even a year later, nothings really changed, nothing about our life together would change, and the same issues would exist, however, I did really love her, and I think I really loved who she represented to me, I’ve come to realize with all my distance and counseling and reading up on it I realize that she never loved me the way I loved her because I don’t think she’s capable of it.
 And I really believe she sees that I am pulling away, I mean she’s honest with me about dating her other guy, and I know that she is dating in before that was a lot harder to take, now it’s not quite so hard, the hard part is that she wants to continue to have some sort of relationship with me that has no boundaries, while still being in some type of relationship with him, all under the auspicious umbrella of coparenting our child, I can tell you I would be able to maintain boundaries if she could, it’s really hard because she’s always trying to undo every boundary that I set.
What makes it worse, is there’s a still deep attraction for one another, and the chemistry we share that when we’re around each other, and so I it’s like being an alcoholic sitting at a bar when I’m around her, and she has no problem kissing me or trying to kiss me, are being affectionate in front of our child, this despite having another relationship with another man who’s met my child, and so I’m trying to establish brown trees and coparent effectively with somebody who has no desire to do that in any normal fashion. what makes it worse, is there’s a still deep attraction for one another, and the chemistry we share that when we’re around each other, and so I it’s like being an alcoholic sitting at a bar when I’m around her, and she has no problem kissing me or trying to kiss me, are being affectionate in front of our child, this despite having another relationship with another man who’s met my child, and so I’m trying to establish brown trees and coparent effectively with somebody who has no desire to do that in any normal fashion
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livednlearned
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2019, 09:09:33 AM »

You may be confusing boundaries with pleas and rules.

A boundary is a limit you set for yourself.

A plea is something you ask someone else to do. Sometimes people frame them as rules with consequences. "You must not do abc or else xyz."

Your limit might be that all exchanges take place at school so you limit your exposure to her that lead to intimate moments. Or a third party handles exchanges until you feel strong enough.

Your limit might also be that you have a phrase for your child when the topic of doing things as a family comes up. Something like, "That's for adults to talk about."

Learn to validate how your child feels without agreeing to her wishes. "I can see you feel sad that we aren't together. I'm sad too." You are the emotional leader, not your child -- if roles are reversed and your child is in charge of what adults do, you will place too much responsibility on tiny shoulders.

My guess is that her attraction is to the attraction itself. Being able to smash through your limits gives her a fleeting moment of being more important to someone (you) than you are to yourself.
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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2019, 01:26:10 PM »

People with BPD tend to have an extraordinary drive to fuse and merge with others, which is not a sustainable feeling because people are by nature separate.

She probably has a relationship with the guy that waxes and wanes (which is normal) and multiple men provide additional solace during whatever emptiness or nothingness she desperately wants to avoid feeling when one guy is occupied or absent.

The other guy might be at work, or he doesn't respond to a text immediately, or he walked into the next room. You are right there to fill that void so she isn't alone, even if it's only temporary.

I admire how much responsibility you are taking for your own actions and feelings. Do you have a therapist supporting you through this? It's hard to disentangle from someone when you desire the very thing you're trying to heal from.

This need is why many entrap men and have children.  Life long advocates.  It is also why NPD/BPD mothers become "enmeshed" with their children to make them feel as one.  It is a terrible bruden for children to shoulder.
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Sweetpea18

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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2019, 03:54:03 PM »

Thanks for the advice.  My child and I talk a lot and those are the things I say.  The problem is that with my ex, my child seems to struggle and have issues.  I get calls all the time and I'm missed and she is sad or doesn't want to go bed without me, etc.  The emotional neediness is from ex, and she is unable to emotionally handle taking care of our child.  I get calls constantly from my child missing me, needing to talk to me, etc.  We dont meet for child exchanges normally, those are done at day care, so that is a blessing.  However my ex for some reason wants to continue this emotionally draining dance with me, and I'm worried my child is suffering in my absence.   I don't text or call my ex on a personal basis, we discuss our child and that is it, but she will drink (I believe she has an alcohol problem, but she does not) and when she does she becomes this emotional basket case...I don't want to take my ex away from my child, but I'm not dealing with someone who is normal in any sense of the word...and nothing I say or she does, has convinced her or shown her that she has issues...I have never mentioned anything about BPD or any of that, cause I know she will just get defensive and act out...
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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2019, 08:09:56 AM »

Have you had a past experience with her when she wanted to be together as a family (or couple) and you were successful saying no?

Maybe start with how it felt or feels when you say no to her, how she responded, how you responded, what happened next.
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Sweetpea18

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« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2019, 11:43:46 AM »

Yes, but if I'm being honest not consistently.  Based on all I read and have learned, I'm fearful that my child will feel emotionally responsible for her mom and thus be ignored and not feel safe and secure, and then I fear she could become just like her mother.  So I tend to want to over compensate emotionally so that she knows at least I will be there for her needs/to hear her in times of sorrow. 

I have told her, you can call daddy anytime you need too and I will be there.  She does and I am.  I'm hoping that counts for something in her upbringing.  I have limited the outings, no sleep overs (we did a few several months ago), and so far that has worked, albeit, the ex has made comments about it.  The last time my child called me sobbing that she missed me, so I went over to help her get to bed and then left.  The ex was drunk (I didn't know until I got there) and then went into the past and how I did nothing, and left her, and all that, and then raged and slapped me twice in the arm.  I calmly got up and left, and the next day she apologized, but I know nothing will ever be different, at least with her and I, and I'm trying to break this trauma bond we have, while trying to remain co parent friendly...I will admit, it's still a work in progress...
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« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2019, 01:20:31 PM »

Is your daughter in counseling?  It sounds as if it might benefit her.

A therapist for your daughter could also give you advice on how best to support her so that she doesn't develop BPD like her mom.  Your therapist may be able to help you with strategies as well.

I hope that you are documenting the times that your wife is drunk around your daughter.  That will be important evidence if you decide to go back to court for more custody of your daughter.  Document all the times your daughter calls you crying and what is said.  This was actually the critical evidence that got my husband temporary modification orders - that SD would call H in tears.

There is a big difference between "taking ... ex away from your child" and protecting your daughter.  My H should have tried to get more custody of SD years ago, but we were both a little paralyzed with guilt because his xW always cried that she was scared we would take SD away.  But it isn't about the moms - it is about the kids.  SD lives primarily with us now, and sees her mom about 30% of the time.  Their relationship is much better now - even mom admits that.

Your D may simply be adjusting to the changes.  Or there may be more going on.  A therapist for her can help you make good choices to help D.
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livednlearned
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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2019, 02:22:53 PM »

worriedStepmom's comment gave me an idea.

Does your D miss you the same way when she's in school or daycare?

If it's only happening at home with your ex, is it possible she is distressed about the neglect or whatever might be happening while your ex is drunk?
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Sweetpea18

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« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2019, 06:56:43 PM »

My daughter is in counseling and we both go, but it's useless cause she is not honest and is defensive and passive during the sessions.  She doesn't acknowledge anything, so frankly, it's a waste of time.  I think she is emotionally neglected to a certain extent, I'm not sure how often my ex is drunk around her or when, I only knew this time cause they both called me to come over, I do keep track.  When my child is with me, we don't have ANY of those issues.  She misses her mom sometimes and we call her anytime she wants, but it's not consistent or anything like that. 
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« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2019, 07:56:49 PM »

My Son is 4, and there has been a lot of fluctuations in his mood and behavior. Yes, he’s 4, but I’ve found that being very consistent with him, validating and involving him as much as possible in day to day life under our roof is starting to become effective again. The kiddos go through their own phases as they grow. As parents, we need to readjust and become consistent again while still holding the platform as the parent. S4 really wants to be involved again. Cooking, laundry, dishes. Of course I don’t make him do these things. He asks to get involved, so I carefully allow him. It leads to an easy way to validate him. Sometimes he wants to play in his room. That’s fine as well. It’s his house too. I also let him know in subtle ways that it’s good for him to be able to play on his own. He’s receptive to validation and it motivates him. I just have to mindful to validate the valid.

Does your daughter’s counselor touch on any of that? Do you both see the same T? I’m assuming so, but it’s best to ask.
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