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Author Topic: (I think) I want 2 just walk away, but am I 2 enmeshed, & do I have the courage?  (Read 186 times)
Tabithatao
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« on: July 11, 2019, 11:03:10 AM »

Hello All, I'm feeling sad, angry, confused and full of doubt. 

For some years now I've believed my mother has BPD.  I'm more or less alone in this belief as only I've only told two other family members - my brother, who's inclined to disagree (sadly, he has some PD traits himself), and my father, who hasn't had anything much to do with mum since their divorce 30 + years ago and just wants "a quiet life".  Thankfully, I do have some good friends, but nobody who knows about BPD.

Anyway, mum was always emotional, complicated, eccentric.  As a child I was quite scared of her, but it was my brother who got the brunt of it then - he was the "wild child" who went off the rails, but I was just the quiet one doing well at school etc.  So I never really understood or even knew about the extent of things until I moved back about 8 years ago - at 18 I went to uni, then moved abroad and only returned to my home town when I was in my mid 30s.

I knew next to nothing about personality disorders back then and was totally bewildered by and dismayed at the way my relationship had developed with mum. Within a few short months things started going horribly wrong between us, but I didn't recognise what I was dealing with and regrettably dealt with/responded to everything the wrong way.

When I first heard of BPD about 7 yrs ago it really shook me up.  The description so fitted my mother's behavior it was uncanny; swinging from waif to witch, then from queen to hermit and so on.  It was also a relief of sorts to have an explanation, to know that it's "a thing" and I'm not alone.  That said, there's also a sense in which it makes things harder, for I doubt she would ever accept such a diagnosis.  If I did tell her what I think I'm pretty certain she'd turn it around and claim I am the one who's mentally ill/unstable... She's already intimated as much for much "lesser sins" on my part.

Regrettably, I'm still dealing with everything the wrong way.  Still responding with these ingrained knee-jerk reactions.  Still reacting like a scared teenager who just wants mum to be nice again. At the same time though, now there is also the strong, independent adult me, with a reasonable sense of myself and my place in the world.  So I know I'm not the horrible person she can make me out to be, even if it hurts that my own mother continues to belittle and denigrate me.  So now I oscillate between being furious at her and scared of her, between wanting her approval and wanting nothing more to do with her.  I find myself thinking "I just can't do this", how I don't want to do this because I resent it very very much.

It's where I'm at right now.

I know what I need to do.  I've tried many times, but I can never seem to manage it.  Set boundaries, be patient, be consistent. I either give in and put up with whatever it was I said I wouldn't/couldn't tolerate anymore, or I lose my temper and blurt things out in an angry, garbled, bitter manner.  And in the midst of all this I keep hoping she'll see and accept me for who I am, be reasonable and kind.

I know also that the bitter irony is that she would say something similar about me; and there's a sense in which she too is right, given how toxic our relationship has become, and given my tendency to distance myself when it gets too much.  I can see that behind all this is her great sense of insecurity and loneliness, frustration and disappointment at how life didn't go the way she wanted it. 

Unfortunately, I cannot keep that level of empathy present after 8 years of confusion and emotional torment.  8 years of being pushed and pulled, needed and rejected.  8 years of never being good enough.

Any conversation of any nature (be it calm and reasonable or fraught and emotional) about feelings, whether hers or mine, seems to be utterly utterly futile.  Even in those rare moments when it feels like maybe some breakthrough has occurred, without fail at a later date she will say or do something to contradict and undermine whatever fragile honesty/understanding was reached.

Gaslighting is another term that applies to her behaviour at times.  She twists things. She lies a lot.  It's never clear where the truth is anymore (8 years of lies have made me doubt nearly everything she says).  I cannot think of one, single instance in which she has demonstrated that she has actually taken on board what I've said about my feelings - somehow or other, sooner or later, she always finds a way to either dismiss, deny or distort whatever I say (if she lets me get to the end of a sentence, that is).

I cannot imagine who/how I would have become if I had stayed at home when I was 18.  My brother is a very troubled and unhappy man, and I can't help but feel that my mother's behaviour when he was growing up has a lot to do with that.  On the plus side ;) in recent years, the tables have been turned, so he's "golden boy" while I'm the "demon".  Though it's no joking matter really because the damage has been done - he seems to hate himself, to have the bleakest of outlooks.  At least I got away, discovered myself and sense of self worth through a different lense.  I don't hate myself.  I hate my relationship with my mother.  I hate the confusion, the conflict, the emotional blackmail, the FOG, the resentment; and I hate the hatred I feel towards her in my darkest moments.

I know I'm enmeshed because I keep repeating the same broken patterns with her, and I am, in essence, stuck on her emotional rollercoaster together with her, allowing myself to be dragged along for the ride.  Does that mean I am also co-dependent?  Does the desire to be accepted (and loved) by one's own mother make someone co-dependent?  Surely, it's one of the most normal and natural of human desires?  How does one relinquish such a desire?  How does one love that person back having given up on them ever really loving you for who you are?

Today, I came very close to telling her I think she's ill, that I think she has BPD and is a pathological liar, that I can't trust a word she says.  Thankfully, writing this is calming me down.  In my heart I know I will never have the mother/daughter relationship with her that I desire.  But I also fear I don't have the strength for this.  At least not right now.  I would prefer to have as little to do with her as possible.  Quite often I think the guilt for being estranged from my mother would be easier to handle than the FOG when trying to be close to her.



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Panda39
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2019, 11:37:38 AM »

Hi Tabithatao,

Welcome to the the BPD Family  Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

I come at BPD from a different angle my Partner's ex-wife is the person in my life with BPD Traits (she's undiagnosed).  I'm often on this board looking for insight to assist my Partner's 2 daughters with their mom.  D22 is no contact with her mom and D18 is low contact and for both it is a struggle, the guilt, the stress (D18 has been diagnosed with PTSD), the inconsistency of the relationship, the anger, the pain and yes the love they have for their mom.

There are a lot of tools and information here that can help you negotiate your relationship with your mom, but to me (as an outside observer) the two big ones are boundaries and radical acceptance.  Neither is easy particularly when there is enmeshment and you've essentially been raised to have no boundaries with your mom, but both can help protect you from the worst of your mom's behaviors. 

Learning these tools and all the others here will take time and practice, remember you are trying to undo a life-time of  behaviors you have learned, and that have become the automatic dance you do with your mom.  Have patience with yourself as you develop these new muscles.

Below are some workshops that you can check out...

Workshop on Acceptance...
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=111415.0

Information on Boundaries
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=61684.0
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=167368.0

I'm glad you've decided to jump in and join us.  Everyone here "gets it" I was amazed at how much our stories sound the same when I first got here.  I know other members will be along soon to say hello.

Take Care,
Panda39
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Turkish
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 09:10:31 PM »

Desiring to be loved by your mother isn't codependent. 

When you describe it as "toxic" what is toxic to you? With what kinds of things do you try to set boundaries and how do you try this?  Panda39's links are helpful.  Let's discuss. We're here for you 

Welcome

Turkish
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Tabithatao
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2019, 05:26:55 AM »

Thank you Panda39 and Turkish

I will check out the workshops and keep informing myself.

I'm struggling with the idea of radical acceptance - I'm not even sure what it means in this context.  Letting go (accepting I can't have the relationship I desire with my mother)? Accepting her for who she is?  Accepting I don't like who she is most of the time?  Accepting that it's healthier to have as little as possible to do with her?  Making myself so "tough", my skin so "thick" that it doesn't matter what she says to me?

I describe my relationship as toxic because we have these cycles of kind of getting along (I ALWAYS feel like I'm walking on eggshells because I know it will never last, I just don't know what's going to cause the next argument, rift, sulk etc), then (often mysterious) sulks, then out comes the nastiness (often quite contorted and very confusing - it can take some time for her to "reveal" what is actually bothering her, and then she'll only go and change her "version of the facts" whenever it's next conveninet to her anyway).  To which I eventually respond (usually badly, though with Mum there is no responding well - I have tried all sorts over the years, it never works), so we have some level of argument, then I usually withdraw because she's being the ice-queen anyway and I need time to "heal", calm down, gather my thoughts and energies. 
All this repeats itself various times a year, and there is never a moment when we have any type of constructive, positive resolution.  The very rare times she does apologize it's for something of her own "interpretation"/imagining - it has no bearing on how I really feel or what I actually said.  Mostly though, 9.5 times out of 10, she just refuses to listen to a single thing I say.  She simply cannot take it on board and recognise why I might feel that way.

I describe our relationship as toxic because over the years, since I've returned, she has become jealous and clearly feels threatened by me.  I understand that ultimately she is desperately insecure, lonely and unhappy, but she belittles all the things most important to me.  Instead of complimenting and celebrating my (modest) successes, she undermines and criticises me.  Instead of recognising how hard I worked to achieve something she dismisses it as child's play or passe'.  Instead of supporting me when things get tough, or when I'm clearly very emotionally invested in something, she competes with me - her situation is more challenging, her feelings are much bigger etc etc.  and so the tables are turned - I should be supporting her, and what a terrible daughter I am for not doing so when what's going on with her is clearly so much more important than anything happening in my life.

I describe our relationship as toxic because over the last 6 years or so she uses my brother against me.  She tries to create a "me against them" scenario.  She is threatened even by the bond between her son and daughter.

I describe our relationship as toxic because it is corroding me, because it drains me, because it is making me bitter.

As for boundaries - so far I've failed miserably.  I have to recognise that.  What have I done?   Not enough.  I typically fail at the first hurdle.  I establish with myself what I want the boundary to be, but never really "enforce" it... because I'm scared of the emotional battle that will follow.  If I make the boundary known to her, or take a few tentative steps towards applying it, she pushes it even harder and or finds new ways to break it. That said, it seems there is no escaping the emotional battle so I really have nothing to lose by giving it a go consistently and concertedly.  Also, the episode that drove me to look for this group/site represents a new "low" and I have to respond appropriately.  If I don't start setting real, effective boundaries now then it will just get worse and worse.
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Harri
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2019, 05:52:02 PM »

Hi and welcome!  I am jumping in here a bit late.

Excerpt
I'm struggling with the idea of radical acceptance - I'm not even sure what it means in this context.

I like to use this reference for Radical Acceptance:

There are three parts to radical acceptance:
~~The first part is accepting that reality is what it is.
~~The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause. 
~~The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it.


and here:

One way is to stop fighting things and defending yourself; to learn to let go and accept what is:  Radical acceptance.

When faced with a painful situation, you really have only 4 options:

* Solve the problem.
* Change how you feel about the problem.
* Accept it.
* Stay miserable; continue to be a victim.



Excerpt
... I'm not even sure what it means in this context.  Letting go (accepting I can't have the relationship I desire with my mother)? Accepting her for who she is?  Accepting I don't like who she is most of the time?  Accepting that it's healthier to have as little as possible to do with her?  Making myself so "tough", my skin so "thick" that it doesn't matter what she says to me?
So I would say yes to all of this that you wrote except for the last line: "Making myself so "tough", my skin so "thick" that it doesn't matter what she says to me?"  Some of us, especially those of us raised in homes where we were invalidated, abused, etc, would benefit by getting a thicker skin in some areas if by 'thicker skin' you mean not allowing other peoples opinions to define us and how we view ourself.  Sure, what someone says can hurt or be a blow to us, but it does not need to destroy us or change who we are at our core.

I don't know if that helps you.  I did want to clarify though as a lot of people confuse acceptance with tolerating abuse, being a doormat or enabling people. 

I also think having appropriate expectations around our pwBPD/abusive parent/family member is important and even vital to self-differentiation.  Even more important though I think it is vital to have realistic expectations about us, who we are, where we are in terms of our healing and what we can realistically expect from ourself.

More on radical acceptance: 

Pain + non acceptance = suffering.
* Reality is what it is
* Everything has a cause
* Life can be worth living - even when there is pain in it.


Another great article here:  POLL: Radical Acceptance - Marsha Linehan PhD

Let me know if any of this helps... or not. 

Excerpt
As for boundaries - so far I've failed miserably.  I have to recognise that.  What have I done?   Not enough.  I typically fail at the first hurdle.  I establish with myself what I want the boundary to be, but never really "enforce" it... because I'm scared of the emotional battle that will follow.  If I don't start setting real, effective boundaries now then it will just get worse and worse.

Are you familiar with the terms Extinction Burst and Intermittent Reinforcement?

Understanding those two things while also working Radical Acceptance (RA) and self-differentiation are all vital to having good boundaries.   
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2019, 06:42:41 PM »

Hi, Tabithatao. I can relate to reacting. It’s like an immediate way out of the situation, but we don’t feel great about it after the dust has settled. We get it. The good thing is, you’re here talking about it with peers that get it and have been there.

Radical Acceptance is something that takes time to really grasp. It’s not a read and do immediately thing. It takes practice and a bit of evolving into. Read the articles and lessons that you’ve been given. That’s where it starts.

You’ve already outlined the pattern that you have with your mother. How long has this pattern been recycling? Do you see it changing for the better? How is it affecting your life?
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2019, 09:53:38 PM »

Excerpt
  I understand that ultimately she is desperately insecure, lonely and unhappy,

Because a pwBPD feels at their core that they are unworthy of love, not loved; hence, the dysfunctional behavoirs to gain validation, including unwarranted criticism and invalidation of others. 
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