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Author Topic: Getting out of mother/daughter dynamic  (Read 148 times)
IvyB

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« on: September 10, 2019, 08:58:14 PM »

I have a uBPD mom and I'm 35, happily married, have good friendships, successful job... etc and I still feel like a little girl when it comes to my mom. I'm afraid of "what she'll say", the silent treatment, getting yelled at, or the rage ("I'm so depressed, you put me in this depression, I'm going to go kill myself...etc"). When it comes to all other aspects of my life, I'm fully rational, calm and collected.
My inward reaction to my mom is not reasonable and I feel stuck in this cycle. It's mostly internal - I feel the anxiety. I know she is doing FOG constantly.
I'm setting boundaries (less calls, fewer visits...etc), I'm focusing more on self-soothing, trying to react less to her hurtful comments (i.e. "why don't you wear more makeup?").
Any advice?
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TelHill

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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2019, 10:03:48 PM »

Hi IvyB,

It's good you are setting boundaries and doing self-care.  You are doing all the right things. You do not have to be in contact with her.  It's a choice, not a set in stone obligation.  I choose to be near my bpd mom because she is elderly and frail. I don't know how long she has. That fact does not make being near her any easier.  It's hard to know when she'll blow up -- always the barely dormant mom volcano.

If you wish to continue with LC, it takes plenty of time and patience to know their disorder is causing them to be this way.  It's nothing personal and disengage from it.  However, it's extremely difficult because they know what buttons to push. They put them there in the first place when you were a small child.

My mom has never threatened suicide. That would be the toughest thing to hear. I don't know if your mom's tried. That is one of the symptoms from the DSM-5.  If she is not bluffing, call 911 when she threatens it. They are the experts on what to do.
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Harri
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2019, 01:22:46 AM »

Quote from:  TelHill
However, it's extremely difficult because they know what buttons to push. They put them there in the first place when you were a small child.
Yes!  I say that a lot.  And even if you have some they did not put there, they know you and how you react to certain things.

The other day I read this on the Son Daughter board and I think it is a great way to help manage our own distress:
Quote from:  livedandlearned
She's in pain and wants you to stay engaged with her and hitting your button is one way to do it. If you can, tell yourself, "Acknowledged. That button is there." Then move onto what's next. "These things happened. Where do we go from here?"

I like that because it allows us to recognize the hurt and that we have some sensitive spots that our pwBPD can hit and then we move on.  We are going to have some kind of reaction but we do not have to stay in that reaction.  We can figure out ways to move through it. 

Generally when we regress back to feeling like a kid when around our parents it is because we are not fully differentiated.  We are still living the roles we had as a kid.  Does that resonate?  I don't want to start saying something is happening here that does not fit.

Regarding the suicide, you can call 911 if you feel there is a real threat (if they have the means to do the act or a plan for it).  You can also call the suicide hotline and talk with someone.  Explain the situation to them, that she has threatened or made comments before and you are unsure of how to respond to her.  You can call 1-800-273-TALK anytime to speak with someone if you are concerned about a loved one with SI.

You can also say:

"I am not trained to help you with this sort of crisis but I will support you.  Do you want me to drive you to the Emergency Room or do you want me to call an ambulance?" 

Using the word ambulance is less panic inducing than saying call 911 though the end result is the same.  Offering them a choice of a or b rather than simply asking if they want to be taken to the ER is important in terms of letting them know this is a serious issue and it will be taken that way.  Present an either or option not one option they can easily say no to.  If it is just a call for attention or a way for her to let off steam, that will be seen as well.

Thoughts?
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    “…we cannot be in the present moment and run our story lines at the same time!”
Methuen

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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2019, 01:42:28 AM »

Hi Ivy B

I can so relate to your summary of yourself.  I am 57, semi-retired, successful career, successful adult children, wonderful supportive husband, with a uBPD mother who can reduce me to a puddle of boiling frustration and fear and despair that can't accurately be articulated with words.  I feel "trapped" in a negative and impossible relationship with my mom that has been affecting my enjoyment and quality of life, despite all the good things in my life.  I have known for 13 years that my mom was uBPD, but until  this summer, did NOT understand what that really meant for me, because for 13 years I clung to some vague hope that things would get better, or I could help my mom if I was just a good enough daughter, and/or I was simply in denial and never researched BPD because I didn't really want to know.  I think I've been grieving this summer.  It's been hard, but I am feeling a glimmer of hope for the first time...

Recent events made me realize that either I needed to change myself, or go NC with my mom.  I have started by finally educating myself about BPD, and have spent the summer working through accepting that my mom is never going to change, isn't the mom I always wanted and believed I had, and that if I am going to have a relationship with her (she is elderly and I am an only child in the same town as her), I am the one that has to do all the changing.  I am reading "stop walking on eggshells", and working through workbooks on DBT.  I am in the early stages of using these new tools.  An encounter with her today went better than it ever would have in the past because I used a few new tools I have recently learned about.  

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  I only that the only thing I have control over is how I respond to her, and it has to be different than what I've always done, because that clearly hasn't been working for me, since I'm miserable.

Not fair that we are the ones that have to do all the work and learn all the new tools to deal with irrational people, but from my reading, the emotional life of a uBPD person is also pretty horrible.  They are  BPD for a reason, and the reason that caused BP was probably a traumatic one they didn't ask for either.  It doesn't excuse their behavior/personality, but it does explain it.  

I came to the conclusion the only way I was going to survive my uBPD mom, was to learn a new way to handle her.  It's a huge time investment, and I would also suggest a really good counsellor, because they have so much knowledge and experience, and can support us with really good tools to manage our super difficult relationship.  They "get" it.  Goodness knows, it helps to have the support of someone who "gets it", and can offer real suggestions and solutions to navigate an otherwise impossible relationship.  I am also beginning to accept that it's ok to look after my own needs, and I can choose whether or not to let my mom FOG me.  It's a work in progress...still in the early stages...

Good luck.  You are way ahead of me because you have figured this out at 35.  What I've learned is they (BP's) aren't going to change, so we have to, or suffer the consequences.  The good news is there are tools, but "we" have to learn them.  That's the olive branch of hope.  That's my journey.  I guess we all have to find our own path.   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

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IvyB

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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2019, 05:36:50 PM »

Thanks everyone!
@tellhi - Yes! You hit it on the nail, pushing my buttons is a way for her to feel validated and it drives me up a wall (her goal achieved!) I need to be better at not reacting. Any advice?
I agree, not feeling differentiated or valued, constantly criticized puts me into that kid mindframe. Also, I need to be better about saying no. My therapist uses the word "enmeshment" and I need to untangle myself from it.
I think her suicide is bluffing (but who knows?), she's been doing it all my life, and knows she'll get attention from me. I agree, I need to make sure she hears consequences.
Thanks again!
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Panda39
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2019, 07:49:27 AM »

Methuen to me you are right on the money about us being the person in this scenario to change.  The only person in the world we can truly change...truly control...is ourselves.

I don't have a BPD mom but do have a crtitical and controlling mom so I can relate.  I spent 47 years bending my self into a pretzel trying to be what my mother wanted me to be.  I spent 47 years believing I wasn't smart because for 47 that's the message I received.  I finally realized that for her it was all about how I reflected on her, what was important to her (intellect/being intellectual), and that this was only her opinion.

I am a sensitive,  creative, and artistic person, not an intellectual but I am by no means stupid.  My authentic self, my own inclinations, my values are different from my mother's.  Being different from her does not mean I am wrong or bad.

Her opinion is only her opinion and is only one opinion.  My life is full of people that love me just as I am warts and all, I don't need to try and be something I'm not.

When my mother goes down the critical path, I will listen but I no longer automatically accept her opinion as the word of the all knowing, always right mother like I did when I was 6 (or even 46).  I take it with a grain of salt, knowing that she will never be the mom I need her to be and I will never be the daughter she needs me to be.

So as Methuen said it is about changing how we manage our own feelings, our own behaviors and our own reactions that can improve things for ourselves.

My mom can still throw out a zinger, but it no longer bothers me because it is about her, it's not about me.

Panda39
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"Have you ever looked fear in the face and just said, I just don't care" -Pink
IvyB

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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2019, 10:11:23 AM »

@Panda39 - any advice how to take the critical mother and not be affected? I feel like I'm still in the pretzel stage. I get that it's a disorder and she can't help it and that she's going through emotional pain...etc. But I'm still reacting even with this new found awareness. Any advice?
Thanks!
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Panda39
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2019, 11:28:37 AM »

For me it was coming to the realization and deep down believing that I am smart and that I will never be what she wants me to be and that is ok.  When she goes into that stuff I do not accept her opinion, I will not accept that I am not smart/not smart enough, because that is an invalid opinion.

When my mom makes these types of comments it's usually about her wanting to impress someone else with her perfect children.  My PhD College Professor brother is perfect, I however am not in her eyes.  The reality is my brother is not perfect and I am not defective.  Anyway when she makes her comments and criticisms I recognize it is about her values (she values intellect), her concern about how she appears to others (fear of looking bad), and really isn't about me or who I am at all (it is about her, her concerns, her fear).

It is about not believing the lie that I am not smart and accepting that she will never see me as smart/intellectual and accepting that is our reality and letting it go.

Next time you are with your mom try and observe your interaction with her at the same time you are in the interaction (wisemind - being present).  Pretend you are sitting on a park bench watching you and your mother having the conversation.  What do you see as an outsider?  What did you learn about your mom's behavior towards you?  What do you think her motivation was/what was her feeling behind a particular comment?  How did you react?  How could you change your reaction? Remember we only truly control one person and that is ourselves.

Panda39
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"Have you ever looked fear in the face and just said, I just don't care" -Pink
IvyB

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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2019, 09:17:15 PM »

Thanks, Panda39! Great advice!
I need to pretend I'm a bystander and create distance to be in a wisemind. It's so tough when I know she's pushing my buttons on purpose and trying to get a rise out of me so that she feels validated. She enjoys drama, makes her feel important.
It's so hard to stay in control and to keep calm. I'm hoping it's a process and that I get better at dealing with it daily. I've also learned if I've had a tough day to stay away from her.
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Harri
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2019, 09:29:25 PM »

Excerpt
It's so tough when I know she's pushing my buttons

Hi Ivy B.  Maybe you can use this knowledge to your advantage until you get used to it and are more detached?  I used to refuse to let it show just out of stubbornness.  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)   It worked for me until I got a better handle on understanding the disorder and my own responses to my mom.  My only regret now is that I was not always nice about it, so be careful.  You don't want to give back, you just want to stay as calm as you can.

And yes, it is a process.

Excerpt
I've also learned if I've had a tough day to stay away from her.
Yes!  This is critical and it is part of good self-care.  Knowing when you need to stay away.
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TelHill

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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2019, 09:40:27 PM »

IvyB,  I think necessity is the mother of invention (pun not intended). It's impossible to be a care giver, even pt, and handle bpd mom's outbursts.  

I read the helper tips and tools here (JADE, SET, Karpman Drama Triangle, among others). I also found the part, which I can't find now, about how being raised by a bpd parent may give us poor coping tools. This may prevent true adult emotional maturity. We didn't cause these poor coping behaviors but it is our responsibility to work on ourselves to achieve emotional maturity. (Hope I understood that correctly.)

Before living here pt, I would have dismissed it. It makes sense now. I made a mental inventory of behaviors I didn't like -- lack of patience, catastrophizing when under pressure, getting a little too angry than the circumstances determined I should be.  That was the real me. The mature adult I looked like was a bit of a facade -- useful at my job. I was losing it and not thinking clearly around mom more and more.  

I've been working on the above. That's when I came up with complimenting my mom, believing what she tore down in me was her own perceived inadequacies and self-put downs. It's calmed her down a bit. I also started upping the thanks yous and I appreciate its when she does do me favors (gives me chocolate she stuffs in her pocket from the  bulk item bins at the supermarket - she knows to give it to me outside the store).  No one arrests an old woman for shoplifting.

I am practicing gray rock with her. I had a problem boss a few years ago and did this with her. I'm doing it with mom now.

I've increased my daily meditation practice from once to twice a day.

We all have different circumstances. What works to defuse the situation by a bit for me, may not help you. She's still goes off on tangents and says strange/abusive things.  It's not a cure, and it's a daily challenge.

I hope that helps you if you choose to stay LC. It's all good if you do NC. Taking care of ourselves, which my parents fail & failed to do, is the objective here.

 

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IvyB

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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2019, 10:18:15 PM »

Thanks Tellhi and Harri!
The understanding definitely helps.
My coping strategies have always been to bottle everything up inside, and then invariably I'd blow up. I'm learning to deal with emotions in a more healthy manner, talk about them, journal, give myself space to process and focus on general self care...etc. It totally makes sense with a uBPD mom, I was the stoic one with bottled emotions.
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