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Author Topic: She changed strategy again  (Read 389 times)
ProudDad12
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« on: November 07, 2019, 09:19:57 PM »

I'm sorry everyone, I feel like I'm spamming the boards lately. I've been leaning hard wherever I can.

So after I continued to ignore my mom's emails, she finally shifted strategy today and sent my wife an apology email. And my wife might have even thought it was sincere if we didn't know all the things we know. But her apology covered 2 days from 3 months ago. It doesn't cover all their crap from then to now, many being things behind our backs that she doesn't even know that we know. And it certainly isn't going to change how she is.

She conveniently said in the email she realized yesterday that she really does love my wife. She also said that my dad isn't healing from his surgery due to the stress of this and can't heal until this gets resolved (so... my wife is now responsible?). Keep in mind the only thing we're doing to add to his stress is hold NC. They are the ones who have been out of line and he has been the a-hole. We backed away from that.

She said that they assumed we knew they love my wife due to the fact they were willing to write off my dad's siblings (Which we never wanted. And same siblings we're in contact with now. Same siblings we discovered were being played alongside us by my mom).

She asked my wife to do the Christian thing and forgive and move on. So yeah, she pulled all the "playing nice" tricks.

Anyway, those are the tidbits I've been told about. I didn't want to read the email because of the turmoil it might start in my head. My life seems to be more peaceful with the NC, and it's easier not to feel horrible for thinking that when she refuses to sincerely apologize. But I'm trying not to worry about that, because it's not my email to respond or not respond.

By the way, my daughter (with whom she claims to have some "old soul connection") has a birthday in a few days. Coincidence? Not thinking so.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2019, 09:25:51 PM by ProudDad12 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 10:47:19 PM »

Oh, honey...I'm so sorry. You are absolutely correct. What you are hearing is a very limited, very controlled, and potentially manipulative apology. They will be able to say, in future, that they apologized...but there will be 1,000 extenuating circumstances why that wasn't really the case...sh*t. What do you do?

I know you feel caught between the proverbial "rock and a hard place." I have to go back to the boundary statement of " I won't spend time in the presence of people who don't treat me and my spouse with respect. "

So what is your level of confidence that your family could match this value of yours?
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2019, 11:04:37 PM »

Mom may think she's found an ally in your wife.  There will likely be more communications.  Follow the BIFF strategy.  Share with your wonderful wife.

2.03 | B.I.F.F. Technique for Communications

I've adapted this verbally as well and it works.
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2019, 05:35:52 AM »

I am still not clear about your boundary and I am not sure your parents are. Of course they are going to test the boundaries. But if the boundary isn't clear - it makes sense for them to continue to try to contact you.

I am not sure you are clear about this boundary. NC is basically No Contact- dear mom and dad- you no longer have a son, or grandchildren- we are out of your life now. Is this forever? Or is this temporary unless your parents change- because expecting them to change isn't realistic.

To have any kind of relationship with a person with a PD- you have to be the one to change- to learn how to handle the situation better. Is it worth it? That depends. One option is NC- completely disconnecting the ties to that person. For some people ( and there are a variety of relationships- romantic, parent, spouse, child, etc)- some sort of relationship remains and they need to work on how to manage themselves in it. Even if a couple divorces, if they have children, the pwPD is the child's parent too and they can not have a NC relationship.

You can choose the way you want to do this, but if it is NC- that needs to be clear. From what I have gathered, you told your mother "this is my last email" but is that clear to her- is this "goodbye mother forever, goodbye dad- you will not have any more communications with me, or the kids or my wife for the rest of your lives?"

Because if this is the situation, even a parent with PD is likely to be quite upset over such a decision and it is hard to blame them for not liking it or trying to contact you.

Yes, your mother is manipulative, and yes your father behaved like he does. My parents said/did some awful things as well. But how I chose to interact with them is not about them, but about me.

My mother pushes boundaries. For me to hold one, I need to be very clear with myself as well as with her over them. She's manipulative, and insistent and it is tiresome to repeat myself with her when she does this. It takes some work to maintain a boundary with her and so I have to be sure of it. I also have to be willing to deal with the cost of that boundary which is often being the bad guy to her, and to have her badmouth me to others.

I have spent some time in co-dependency 12 step groups and programs working with a sponsor who turned the mirror on me- made me look at things from my part in them. This was a tough experience at times, but one I am grateful for. One of the topics was about "making others wrong".  Yes, sometimes other people do something mean or manipulative, but this perspective is less helpful than looking at - how am I handling this?

Both NC and LC can be tough to do. For NC, I think there needs to be parameters. If it is NC, I am no longer in your life- this is it- then I think this needs to be communicated clearly. For my mother, NC is a form of punishment and manipulation. She will say "I won't speak to you again" if she's mad. A couple weeks later, she calls as if nothing has happened. Once she was mad and said " I won't send the kids any gifts anymore" and then, later " what do they want for their birthday?"  My mother says all kinds of things in the moment - and later doesn't mean them. Yours probably does too. So why would she take your email as a permanent "don't contact me forever" statement?

Your parents will test your boundaries. For your part I think it would help to be really clear about it. Can you manage NC? Are you able to manage NC while your father has health issues? How will you manage your kids not seeing your parents? I am not questioning your decision, but I am pointing out some of the difficult questions that I think it would help you to consider- because if their contacting you is difficult for you, it's more effective for you to look at yourself, your feelings, than their behavior.


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ProudDad12
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2019, 08:13:04 AM »

Oh, honey...I'm so sorry. You are absolutely correct. What you are hearing is a very limited, very controlled, and potentially manipulative apology. They will be able to say, in future, that they apologized...but there will be 1,000 extenuating circumstances why that wasn't really the case...sh*t. What do you do?

I know you feel caught between the proverbial "rock and a hard place." I have to go back to the boundary statement of " I won't spend time in the presence of people who don't treat me and my spouse with respect. "

So what is your level of confidence that your family could match this value of yours?

Thanks, this pretty much sums up where my head is and what I'm struggling with. Part of me wants to believe her so badly. The other part doesn't want to get back in the mud, and thinks she's just saying what she thinks she needs to say to have access to my daughter in time for her birthday.

Mom may think she's found an ally in your wife.  There will likely be more communications.  Follow the BIFF strategy.  Share with your wonderful wife.

2.03 | B.I.F.F. Technique for Communications

I've adapted this verbally as well and it works.

Thanks, I'll take a look at that. Unfortunately for my mom my wife is the farthest thing from an ally. Even before the email, she was of the mindset that they've said/done too much for her ever to be willing to see them again, and she didn't believe a word of the email. She actually called it laughable, and doesn't intend on responding. As far as her almost believing it, that's if she didn't know all the surrounding context of things being said behind our backs as well as history. Sorry, I probably should have said all that in my first post. Just been trying to be more brief as I feel like I keep leaving essays on here!

I am still not clear about your boundary and I am not sure your parents are. Of course they are going to test the boundaries. But if the boundary isn't clear - it makes sense for them to continue to try to contact you.

I am not sure you are clear about this boundary. NC is basically No Contact- dear mom and dad- you no longer have a son, or grandchildren- we are out of your life now. Is this forever? Or is this temporary unless your parents change- because expecting them to change isn't realistic.

I'm really sorry Notwendy, I don't mean to be fickle and vague on all this! It's been a major point of inner struggle and turmoil for me.

The objective part of me comes to the conclusion from my other thread, that I just want to separate myself and my family from the nonsense. This idea seemed impossible 3 year ago. 1 year ago it seemed like a horrible thing that may come to pass. 3 months ago it felt difficult but likely happening whether I wanted it to or not. Yesterday it felt sad but peaceful. My parent's refusal/inability for introspection made this much easier for me.

So now my mom's email starts toying with the variables in my head's equation. Is she sincere? (probably not, but is that for me to question?). Does it cover everything? (not even close). Did my dad apologize? (Never!) Will it happen again? (Will the sun rise tomorrow?)

Reading that makes it seem I'm still leaning towards the boundary we discussed earlier. But the email gives a foothold to emotions and doubt, hurting my objectivity. I start thinking about my dad and his recovery. I think about how my mom told my wife she needs me and our kids (I hate when I'm aware of manipulation and it still hits the mark). I think about the holidays coming up. I think about how NC means NC with my siblings as well, one whom has a daughter on the way. Despite my logical/methodical way of thinking, I'm a very sentimental and empathetic person. So these thoughts seep in and wreck me on the inside.

So then I have to force myself to think about how our lives have been more drama free with NC. How our daughter's behavior has improved the past few months. How this will likely happen again because they aren't going to change, they just want us back in the picture. I think about how we have no idea what my mom has been saying about us and to whom in the past 3 months, since we're only hearing from people who confide in us.

I even try to reach back to 9 years ago when my mom was frustrated with my wife about something, and my dad twirled around his new pistol he was playing with and said "I have something for her right here". It's his own brand of joking, but they absolutely refuse to apologize and accept that 99% of people have a big problem with that sort of thing. Instead they say "that's just how he is", and attack my cousin as evil for telling my wife that it happened (BTW, that sparked the rift between my dad and his siblings to which I referred earlier, and why my mom tries to blame my wife. Refusing to acknowledge all the tension under the surface they had with them long before).

I guess what I'm saying is that until I can be absolutely clear about NC both with myself and everyone else, I need to kill a part of myself on the inside and harden myself. Because despite everything they've done I feel horrible. Still working on it.

I know that was a lot, just trying to explain why I keep coming across as unclear on this.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 08:23:41 AM by ProudDad12 » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2019, 10:51:32 AM »

I'm sorry everyone, I feel like I'm spamming the boards lately. I've been leaning hard wherever I can.

First of all, I said this to Harri last week, so I know how you feel. I'll tell you what Harri told me: keep posting, we care, it's why we're here. We need each other.

I think what I hear from you sounds a lot like what I struggle with: seeing the problem, having some idea of what you 'should' do, and having to navigate the overwhelming emotion attached to it. It's that overwhelming emotion part that's the big hurdle for me. My heart's breaking. I know yours is too.

I could be wrong, but I don't hear that there is any part of you that thinks her apology is real. It's disconcerting because you want it to be real. If it was real, it would provide an easier way out of this mess. In a way, her apology is highlighting all that is unwell, pushing into your heartache, and making the issues more real. Am I way off?

NotWendy is making some great observations. I've read her message several times and I need to work on applying what she's saying. Maybe her guidance can help us get over that emotion part, because I think it's about starting with what we want/value, then deciding how we need to protect that, and sticking to it. If it's important that you have occasional updates on your dad's health, maybe LC is best but you restrict conversations to his health. There is more flexibility with LC because it leaves the door cracked, more room to play with. If NC is what you need, what if you didn't even open emails? Or listen to updates from relatives?

The goal is to get to a place where we unapologetically protect what matters to us. My divorce counselor once told me in the middle of my divorce, "You don't need to fight anymore." I looked at her like she had two heads. Later, something clicked and what she said made sense: what I want, matters. Period. I don't need to explain or justify anymore. I can live out what I value.

Do you really believe that what you want, matters?

If you read any of my recent threads you'll know I'm back in a place where I'm really struggling with this again. If heartache makes things cloudy for you, please know that I'm with you.

You're doing great sharing emotions and asking for guidance. Trust yourself and know that it's ok to move at your pace, we care, and ultimately the choice is yours. You're not too much, we are here for you, let us know what you need. How do our posts make you feel?

I'm looking forward to a day when we can pour our love and empathy and care into what matters to us most, and we can feel joy and peace again.  Until then, we'll walk together and work these new muscles we're developing. Love it! (click to insert in post)

pj
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2019, 11:04:19 AM »

I guess what I'm saying is that until I can be absolutely clear about NC both with myself and everyone else, I need to kill a part of myself on the inside and harden myself.

I want to respond to this quickly because it's important. I felt this way 2-3 days ago (see my responses to Form Flier and Once Removed), resentful that I was being asked to deaden my heart.

I don't think that's what they're saying. If we believe that what we want matters, we are in fact doing a very loving thing (for everyone, ourselves included) in defending our boundaries. It's not about not feeling. It's about what we feel about.

Done in the right way I would also argue that there is a measure of mercy in clear boundaries, even in NC, because you're releasing others from expectations they can't meet and taking responsibility for your wellness. I think that's what it's about.

Bottom line: how you feel matters, whatever that is. Keep us posted.

pj
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 11:12:11 AM by pursuingJoy » Logged
Panda39
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2019, 11:51:11 AM »

Excerpt
Reading that makes it seem I'm still leaning towards the boundary we discussed earlier. But the email gives a foothold to emotions and doubt, hurting my objectivity. I start thinking about my dad and his recovery. I think about how my mom told my wife she needs me and our kids (I hate when I'm aware of manipulation and it still hits the mark). I think about the holidays coming up. I think about how NC means NC with my siblings as well, one whom has a daughter on the way. Despite my logical/methodical way of thinking, I'm a very sentimental and empathetic person. So these thoughts seep in and wreck me on the inside.


ProudDad, Your mom's apology is creating FOG.  Her apology is also about boundary busting by putting you between the rock (you asked for an apology) and a hard place (she's given her disingenuous apology so in her mind she did what you wanted and you must now accept it and walk right back into the way things used to be...Not!).

I agree with Notwendy that being clear about what you want is important.  That does not mean that you have to go NC today and for the rest of your life, it doesn't mean you have to go back to the way it was, and it doesn't mean you have to go LC from here on out. You can move from varying levels of contact...Like decide to go NC for 6mos, see how things play out and then re-evaluate.  Did the rest of the family follow your mom's lead and lessen contact with you? After the block of time how are you feeling?  More relaxed, more tense, more guilt, more happy?  How is your relationship with your wife?  Have the kids asked about their grandparents? or not? etc.  If you decide you want to re-connect then, how much?  What are your boundaries?  How will you enforce them?  Do you and your wife want differing levels of contact? Do you have boundaries around your kids time with their grandparents? What do you need from your family in order to reconnect?  Therapy?...

So maybe after NC you and your kids go LC but your wife remains NC or you continue NC or some other variation.

I've watched both of my Partner's daughters deal with this and to me what it comes down to is NC you have to learn to deal with the guilt and sadness and LC you have to become an expert at setting boundaries.  Both require that you accept that your parents are who they are and will likely not change and it is up to you to work with them as they are.  The only person you control is you and what you do.

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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2019, 01:33:33 PM »

 
So...I'm not suggesting you do this.  I am suggesting you "think it through".  Much of finding success when people are using such manipulative tactics is to "say yes in such a way that paints then in a corner they don't want to be in"...or "say yes in a way that shines light where darkness has been".

The thing that jumped out at me is the allegation that your Dad is no healing because of this stress.

Consider this.

That you are more than willing to do things that your Dad's medical team thinks will help him heal.  Since he's not healing you wish to be included in his next appointment so you can hear it straight from the medical professionals and make sure you get it right.

Big picture:  They toss lots of stuff out there, so much that it's hard to keep up with.  It's folly to try and respond to all of it.

If you are going to respond, I would only respond to one issue.  Wouldn't that be Dad's health?  After all what could be more important.  Certainly Mom would understand that nothing else should be handled until that is sorted out...after all..it's Dad's health.

See how that paints her into a box. 

2 ways out

1.  Back of and say she was mistaken and it's not your fault.
2.  You get to talk directly to Dr who can "prescribe" healthy options for all involved that reduce stress (which of course could include family therapy/therapy for mom)

The "message" you will be sending is that you will choose the "healthy path" and will not participate in nonsense.

Thoughts?

Has Mom ever apologized like this before?

Best,

FF



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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 06:04:29 AM »

 think it's about starting with what we want/value, then deciding how we need to protect that, and sticking to it.


Yes, but I can relate to how difficult it is, because as Proudad said- having these boundaries with our parents in some ways goes against our natures- as we were raised and also because we are empathetic people.

First - we were raised to meet our BPD parents' needs and the enabling spouse endorsed this. While this isn't the purpose of children- it was in my family.

Second, I am not like my BPD mother. She is so focused on her own inner turmoil that she's not fully ( she is sometimes) aware of the effect of her behavior on others. If I think I have done something hurtful to someone else, I feel badly about it.

So when I have a boundary, she doesn't see her part in why I have it. She's in victim mode- and convinced I am the cause of her unhappiness. Since I am empathetic, this is hard for me to see. I don't wish to cause my parents to be unhappy- however, to have boundaries and wish to be treated kindly isn't being cruel. To not have boundaries and allow them to be abusive to me might result in them being happier ( momentarily) then that would be cruel to myself.

To me, it isn't one of those choices I feel good about. It's a choice of maintaining some sanity- for me it was about protecting my own sanity and my children. As they got older, my mother was starting to enlist them as her emotional caretakers- having them "wait" on her and having heart to heart talks with them. Seeing them as her peers when they were pre-teens. My mother also has no boundaries when it comes to sexuality. She asks way TMI about " do you like any one at school" and also shares TMI. And there was no way I could passively do nothing about this. So we went LC- telling her nothing but superficial information. I would not allow my kids to be alone with her. They were also experiencing their own boundaries. They felt uncomfortable around her because of her poor boundaries. It was important for me as a parent to reinforce their own boundaries so they would recognize them. I wanted them to have boundaries.

There is a cost to this though. I lost the approval of my father. By the time he died, he was angry at me. My parents basically disowned me at the time of his death. This was very hurtful as I didn't know if it was my dad's idea or not. I have since learned it was probably my mother's. A while later, she changed her mind, put me back in the will and has tried to act as if nothing happened. I didn't care about this materially. I just wanted to know if my father cared about me. My mother told her FOO not to speak to me and they didn't for a long time. Some of them have reached out to me now. It took some time, but I think they have seen enough to suspect it is her with the issues- but we don't discuss her in any negative way. That is one of my boundaries with them- to not be in a triangle with them and her.

She's cold and demanding with me. We aren't close. It's eerie to see the emotional distance between us. She seems to cast me as the bad one. She mainly tolerates me so she can maintain contact with my kids. She likes the status of being a grandmother. But due to the emotional distance, she doesn't really even know me. I wonder if she ever did know me, or that due to her BPD she could mainly see me through that.

But I don't regret LC. I couldn't have allowed her to enlist my kids into the dysfunction. I didn't want to allow her to be emotionally abusive to me. In my mother's world, people are either on her side or not her side, and to be on her side you have to choose. Perhaps my father also struggled with a difficult choice - and yet he also had to manage daily life with her and I don't blame him for making the choice that gave him some peace in his home.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 06:11:10 AM by Notwendy » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2019, 07:25:04 AM »

She conveniently said in the email she realized yesterday that she really does love my wife. She also said that my dad isn't healing from his surgery due to the stress of this and can't heal until this gets resolved (so... my wife is now responsible?). Keep in mind the only thing we're doing to add to his stress is hold NC. They are the ones who have been out of line and he has been the a-hole. We backed away from that.

A couple of thoughts about this. For one - my mother does not apologize. When she's in victim mode ( which she basically is) she sees herself as doing nothing wrong- if one is a victim, you can't blame them right? She believes she is the one who is being hurt.

Rarely- she has made a sort of half hearted apology at times when I have held her to her behavior- but is it somehow not complete. I don't think it is easy for a pwBPD to apologize. It triggers a lot of shame in them. I can't tell if her apologies are sincere or not- but I also sometimes wonder if it is the best she is capable of doing.

Neither you or your wife is responsible for the dynamics between your parents.

Why would NC cause stress? Several reasons but for one, it is social embarrassment and shame. For my parents, my going LC brought the "family secret" out for them. Their daughter is keeping a distance and they know why that is- but it means I'm not going along with the enabling, the secrecy and the hiding of mom's disorder- and this makes them uncomfortable. In their social circle-their friends are spending time with their adult children and grandchildren- why are they not? Either something is wrong with them, or with you----- and it can't be about them so it has to be you.

Your parents are doing what is typical for family systems. Your family was in a sort of equilibrium with people balancing out your mom and her behaviors. You stepped out of your role. Now the system is out of balance. They feel discomfort. It can't be about them right? No it has to be your fault and they are rallying to get you back in line.  I recall an email from my Dad " I want us to be a happy family again". What was a happy family? Enabling my mother, allowing her to be emotionally abusive to me, full access to my kids so she could feel good about herself. Where was any consideration for me or my family's happiness?

They are the ones who have been out of line and he has been the a-hole


But dealing with the issue with a full apology and seeing their part in this requires this self recognition which I don't think is common or even possible with this type of family dynamic. Despite all my mother has done, she doesn't apologize. She can't do it.

It all comes down to you making the best choices you can for you and your family. Hard choices too - but don't expect them to be concerned about you. I think it needs to be your effort. The hard part I think is your father's health. I know you are concerned about him. Is there any way you can get updates on this from other people?
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2019, 10:24:02 AM »

Thank you everyone, there was a LOT of helpful stuff in there. I'm reading and re-reading to try to take it all in.

To try to answer some of the questions, the way I feel about the past few months of NC is complicated. There's a certain amount of guilt I struggle with, but aside from that it's been quite peaceful (with the exceptions of when they managed to get a message through). It's been nice not worrying about navigating their triggers and walking on eggshells. Our daughter has been listening/behaving better, not sure whether that's a coincidence. She's asked about seeing them once, it was last week when she wondered if my parents would show up and surprise her for her birthday. Then she immediately amended her statement and said well just my mom (since my dad hasn't bothered to show up here in over a year). That spoke volumes to us, that our 6 year old picked up on that. As far as what it would take to get us back in the picture, I think for me they'd have to convince my wife. In a way it kinda stinks because I don't feel like I have much control, but that's the reality of it. Because as long as she's at odds with them she's not going to want our kids around them. And I'm not going to dispute that. And there's not much point in me trying to have a relationship with them by myself, because it's really the grand babies that matter to them. To get my wife back to the table, it's going to require my mom seeking counseling both for her behavior and suspected substance abuse. It will also take acknowledgement from my FOO that my parents' behavior was out of line. It will take a real apology. I don't think they can meet those terms.

The idea of LC is hard, because our kids are still young and impressionable, so even if made up for recent events, we all know nothing is going to change and behaviors will continue. I'm scared to keep putting my family through that cycle.

I'll put it this way... and this statement makes me feel horrible... if they were out of our lives in a way that was not of my doing (i.e., not living with guilt and turmoil), I suspect our lives would be healthier.

And yeah, I know we're not really responsible for my dad's health. I do know stress can affect it, but that concept shouldn't be an excuse to get away with their behavior. It's just one of those things that I know, but yet still have to use effort to keep my mom's words from poisoning me.


Anyway, yesterday was quite eventful and I need to update...

Little background, today is my wife's birthday. Daughter's is following in a few. So I was home yesterday with my daughter, and thought I heard something in the garage. Found out later it was my mom, leaving a big bag of presents at the door. So glad I didn't check when I heard the noise, I was pretty weirded out (they live 2 hours away). Apparently my dad had a Dr appointment in town (found out via other sources it went well). And my sister sent one in the mail to our daughter, a framed picture of her, our daughter, and my mom.

Just prior to all this happening, apparently my parents deduced my wife knew my dad was telling family to not "like" things on my wife's facebook. Next thing we knew there was a big confrontation between my parents and my aunt and cousin. It got ugly, and my parents accused them of trying to make things worse and to cause problems (so him DOING it isn't a problem, but them telling us the truth is). My dad sent my aunt a hateful text. She was pretty hurt by it and was shocked he was capable of it (we told her it was par for the course for us with him). My mom went off on my cousin. My cousin's initial response was she was dealing with small kids and would reply later. My mom responded with "UNBELIEVABLE!" and then proceeded to tell her she managed to make time to ruin her family.

Without getting into all the details, it got ugly and cumulated in my cousin telling her off and more or less making it clear than my mom is responsible for her family's problems and no one else, and they need to take responsibility instead of looking for someone to blame. Didn't go over well obviously. My aunt and cousin finally blocked them.

So here's the interesting part... my parents now have a new villain to set their sights on. And it is perfectly coinciding with their change in tactics of being "nice" to my wife. Starting with the email mentioned in first post, and culminating to happy birthday messages to my wife by those who are still able to see her on FB. It's like they have to have somewhere to set the blame that is not them, and now that they have a target other than my wife, they can be nice to her.

I'm not buying it anymore.

After all this, my brother left me a voicemail via his wife's phone, telling me to call him, that he's my brother and can't believe I blocked him (umm, then, don't say things that make me want to?). I'm not planning to call back. And then my mom sent me emails asking if we got the presents. So weird and surreal watching the change in tone. I'm sure when I go long enough without responding she'll turn again.

Like I said, I'm not buying it. I just need my heart to catch up so I can finally make some determination and possibly some boundary setting proclamation that's been suggested more than once I need to make. It stinks knowing that she truly does see herself as the victim and hurting one, but like mentioned here, I need to worry me and my family.

Sorry, I hope this all makes sense. There was so much I wanted to respond to here, and too much happened yesterday to do justice with a "short" update. But I didn't want to write a novel, and need to get off the computer!

Thanks again everyone for all the help. I'm grateful I can come here and share and process.
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2019, 11:10:02 AM »

That's as good an illustration of the Karpman Triangle as you'll you'll see. Your parents have u bed you and your wife out of the Persecuted role as are trying to force you not the Rescuer tole.

As NotWendy points out, choosing not to participate anymore has completely thrown off the dynamics of the entire family. For the FOO, your brother and sister are obviously off balance. A gift of a framed photo of grandmother, aunt, sister? Really? Can your sister be any more obvious? For the extended family, they are collateral damage. How dare they tell the truth?

This is what happens when one has to wait out an extinction burst.

I take it you intend to continue NC?

There have been a number of posts over the years regarding what to do with gifts during NC (return with no comment, donate the gift to charity, etc.). What are you thinking?
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2019, 03:12:47 PM »

That's as good an illustration of the Karpman Triangle as you'll you'll see. Your parents have u bed you and your wife out of the Persecuted role as are trying to force you not the Rescuer tole.

I didn't think about that, you're exactly right!

As NotWendy points out, choosing not to participate anymore has completely thrown off the dynamics of the entire family. For the FOO, your brother and sister are obviously off balance. A gift of a framed photo of grandmother, aunt, sister? Really? Can your sister be any more obvious? For the extended family, they are collateral damage. How dare they tell the truth?

Yeah the picture was completely groan-worthy and their reaction to extended family infuriating. But I don't expect anything less from them. The former because this is the same sister, mini-me to my mom, that says she "feels like she birthed" our daughter. The latter because it's usually some "truth" that sparks major conflict with them. Typically someone will forget their place and make a statement that suggests my mom did something less than perfect, then it's immediate rage-fueled righteous indignation followed by a call to arms with my FOO.

This is what happens when one has to wait out an extinction burst.

I take it you intend to continue NC?

Yep that's the current plan. It's hard with their new change in strategy, but I can't convince myself anything else will change. And between me and my wife I'd be the easier sell.

There have been a number of posts over the years regarding what to do with gifts during NC (return with no comment, donate the gift to charity, etc.). What are you thinking?

Haha, well, let's just say my wife was in a bad mood with all the events of the day, had a cathartic moment, and had to clean up some glass outside near the trash can. As for the rest, it all came from one store and my mom left all the tags on. Though I'd still guess it will be donated, because I doubt my wife even wants the store credit.
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2019, 05:49:55 AM »

It sounds like your boundary is working for you and your family-

It's ironic, this odd behavior. We want our kids to have boundaries. If someone were not treating them kindly, we would want them to have boundaries with that person. Yet, somehow our parents have felt it is OK to treat us with less kindness and respect than they would treat friends or co-workers. Such an odd situation with BPD dynamics. Sure, we are more familiar with family but not abusive. Since when is being abusive OK?

It's not OK.

Then, if we do say " that's enough" then- we are the "bad guy".

Yes, people do make mistakes. If I were to hurt someone's feelings and they told me, I would apologize and try not to do it again. But if we say "you hurt my feelings" it doesn't work that way- that causes drama and an escalation.

If we can't repair a relationship like this- if we can't stop the abusive behavior with discussion and attempts at reconciliation- then the only choice is a firm boundary. It feels odd because we want to let our guard down with family. Being intimate and close to someone requires emotional vulnerability and we can't be vulnerable with the very people we wish we could be.

I think for most of us here, LC or NC is a last resort. We didn't want to have to do it, and tried to work things out, but when someone doesn't respect boundaries, we find ourselves having to have firm ones. Keeping a boundary with my mother is a challenge, but it is better than the dysfunction that we had in our interactions before.

We aren't the "bad guy" for trying to keep the kind of boundaries that would be normal in any relationship.

I see where you see the benefit in your choice to you and your family. Keep this in mind during the times it is challenged.
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« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2019, 01:44:31 PM »

You're exactly right NotWendy, and thanks for the pep talk. My FOO wants to protect all the members, and will jump in a heartbeat at any perceived slight. But completely, utterly blind to any infraction of theirs, even if it's tenfold worse. I've wasted much energy wishing they could see that THEY are the ones inflicting pain. Instead they just blame us for throwing up boundaries. As you said, WE are the bad guys. My brother reenforced that today when he sent me another email at work, saying they would call to tell my daughter happy birthday, "except for that whole being blocked thing. Unbelievable".

Like you said, most people acknowledge with an apology when they hurt someone, even if they didn't intend to. But daring to say that to our families is guaranteeing a disaster.

And to understand that our boundaries are for protection require them to understand that their actions/words are hurting others. So I just have to accept being the bad guy in their eyes and the eyes of sympathetic ears. And as you said, reminding myself this is for the health of my family.

We talked about this in Sunday School today, since the lesson was on forgiveness, and how forgiveness shouldn't be contingent on the offender's remorse (or lack thereof). Tough topic given the circumstances! Especially since I struggle to balance forgiveness with NC. Discussion got deep. Analogy presented to me was someone serving a life sentence for a serious crime. They can be forgiven by the victim(s), maybe even find peace, but they will remain in jail. That analogy helped.

So the latest developments... my wife and cousin were talking last night. As they've been talking recently, they've been catching up over the last 9 years, as well as comparing notes. My wife was picking up that there was something my cousin wanted to tell her but didn't a the same time. She pushed until she told her. Apparently a while back, my mom and sister were talking to my aunt and cousin. My mom/sister said that our daughter told them that she "has a bad life" and that my wife was mean to her (keep in mind, she's 6 and was likely a year or two younger at the time). I hate feeling the need to say this, but both my wife and I are ultra protective of our kids, and what they said is just not true. Unless they were leading her to make a comparison between them (spoiling/enabling/coddling) and my wife (moderation/boundaries). They also said my wife loves our son much more than our daughter, and that they don't think she really wants to be a mom.

So my wife played it cool while on the phone with my cousin, but she broke down afterwards. Like I said, those things are absolutely not true. And any sliver of idea that she'd ever be ok with my parents seeing our kids again went out the window. She's spending her day off today purging our home of any gifts/etc that came from them. She's hurt, and I'm angry, and yet that stupid little voice in my heart is still trying to make me give credence to my brother's email. It's all just so messed up.

And I know there's an argument to be made that my cousin is trying to stir the pot, but it would take a special brand of evil to do that (not to mention her demeanor while saying it seemed genuine). I've also had my sister try to tell me a similar thing before, spinning my daughters words to suggest my wife is a problem. At the time I just got angry and ignored it, but this is too much now. Same sister who FB messaged my wife on her birthday telling her "despite everything, I still love you".
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« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2019, 03:22:25 PM »

I would think of NC as "breathing room." Without NC, they simply don't give you room to breathe freely.

Your wife must be terribly, terribly hurt.
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« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2019, 03:57:25 PM »


Uggg... Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Can you see that by "purging" gifts based on something other people say (reportedly) is playing into the dynamic and at some level giving credence to their words.

What if they had said you were Martians in disguise?  Would you have purged?

I doubt it..and I doubt you are a Martian and I doubt you give your daughter a bad life.

So...why would one trigger a purge and one not?

There may be a good reason...

Best,

FF
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« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2019, 04:25:40 PM »

I would think of NC as "breathing room." Without NC, they simply don't give you room to breathe freely.

Your wife must be terribly, terribly hurt.

Incredibly.

Uggg... Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Can you see that by "purging" gifts based on something other people say (reportedly) is playing into the dynamic and at some level giving credence to their words.

What if they had said you were Martians in disguise?  Would you have purged?

I doubt it..and I doubt you are a Martian and I doubt you give your daughter a bad life.

So...why would one trigger a purge and one not?

There may be a good reason...

I may need some hand holding on this one. I thought maybe you meant our intuition, based on our experiences, is subconsciously telling us my mom and sister really said those things, manifesting itself by feeling the need to purge. But I don't want to misunderstand, and realize you may be saying something else, like we might be playing into their hands and being bad parents.

For what it's worth, she's been planning some level of purge today for a few days. Between birthdays and Christmas and the fact that our house is buried in toys (since my daughter has such a bad life), we needed to make room and donate what they don't use anymore. My mom's love language is material things, and she buys BIG things (e.g., when we told her our daughter was into Barbies and getting the Dream House for Christmas last year, my mom got her a 3-4 foot tall Barbie. So now she can play Attack of the 50 Foot Woman Barbie).

And there's also the random items like the American Girl doll that has sat in our daughter's closet untouched; the one that my mom bought her (who was 4 at the time) in spite of my wife's insistence she wanted to be the one to buy her her first one after taking her to the AG store.

All that to say she was already planning on cleaning stuff out today, and there are a number of things that have negative emotions attached and are just taking up space.

Side note, I expect thing to get worse. My wife has always been annoyed that both my mom and sister both love posting pictures of our children all over their FaceBooks, usually after editing/filtering them in some way (like a filter that puts lipstick on our daughter). We've never said anything because it was small stuff compared to other boundaries. Well, we got a screenshot from my friend, showing where he reported my mom and sister to FB for posting images that aren't of them. His wife's mom had BPD and they went though much worse than us, so he's feeling protective and trying to help. But who the heck does he think they are going to blame?
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« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2019, 04:50:04 PM »


At a basic level.

If you wife needs to purge...purge.  Even if she loved you parents. 

However, in this case..parents say bad things (purportedly) and your wife expends energy.

Do you see how that hands dysfunctional people power?  They can make you expend energy whenever they want by saying untrue and whacky things.

That's the basic version.  Can you see this?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2019, 06:48:42 PM »

You're exactly right NotWendy, and thanks for the pep talk. My FOO wants to protect all the members, and will jump in a heartbeat at any perceived slight. But completely, utterly blind to any infraction of theirs, even if it's tenfold worse. I've wasted much energy wishing they could see that THEY are the ones inflicting pain. Instead they just blame us for throwing up boundaries. As you said, WE are the bad guys. My brother reenforced that today when he sent me another email at work, saying they would call to tell my daughter happy birthday, "except for that whole being blocked thing. Unbelievable".

Like you said, most people acknowledge with an apology when they hurt someone, even if they didn't intend to. But daring to say that to our families is guaranteeing a disaster.

And to understand that our boundaries are for protection require them to understand that their actions/words are hurting others. So I just have to accept being the bad guy in their eyes and the eyes of sympathetic ears. And as you said, reminding myself this is for the health of my family.

We talked about this in Sunday School today, since the lesson was on forgiveness, and how forgiveness shouldn't be contingent on the offender's remorse (or lack thereof). Tough topic given the circumstances! Especially since I struggle to balance forgiveness with NC. Discussion got deep. Analogy presented to me was someone serving a life sentence for a serious crime. They can be forgiven by the victim(s), maybe even find peace, but they will remain in jail. That analogy helped.

So the latest developments... my wife and cousin were talking last night. As they've been talking recently, they've been catching up over the last 9 years, as well as comparing notes. My wife was picking up that there was something my cousin wanted to tell her but didn't a the same time. She pushed until she told her. Apparently a while back, my mom and sister were talking to my aunt and cousin. My mom/sister said that our daughter told them that she "has a bad life" and that my wife was mean to her (keep in mind, she's 6 and was likely a year or two younger at the time). I hate feeling the need to say this, but both my wife and I are ultra protective of our kids, and what they said is just not true. Unless they were leading her to make a comparison between them (spoiling/enabling/coddling) and my wife (moderation/boundaries). They also said my wife loves our son much more than our daughter, and that they don't think she really wants to be a mom.

So my wife played it cool while on the phone with my cousin, but she broke down afterwards. Like I said, those things are absolutely not true. And any sliver of idea that she'd ever be ok with my parents seeing our kids again went out the window. She's spending her day off today purging our home of any gifts/etc that came from them. She's hurt, and I'm angry, and yet that stupid little voice in my heart is still trying to make me give credence to my brother's email. It's all just so messed up.

And I know there's an argument to be made that my cousin is trying to stir the pot, but it would take a special brand of evil to do that (not to mention her demeanor while saying it seemed genuine). I've also had my sister try to tell me a similar thing before, spinning my daughters words to suggest my wife is a problem. At the time I just got angry and ignored it, but this is too much now. Same sister who FB messaged my wife on her birthday telling her "despite everything, I still love you".

Hi Proud Dad,

It's not exactly a breeze to change course with your FOO as an adult with your own family in tow. At least your wife and child(ren) are on board with you.  Is it possible to take a break from the family (the usual no response on social media, text or vm) for two weeks to try out NC?  If you don't like it or don't feel ready, not too much time is lost to return to what you are doing now.

I have had to distance myself with my extended family outside my FOO.  They are dysfunctional (locker room talk, racist, homophobic) and kind of hooked on drama and vicious gossip. We do not have the same interests and not much to talk about besides the weather. I have tried over the years to do things as a family. It has not been good for me. Besides weddings and funerals, where I'm polite and low-key, I don't bother. I want to be true to myself and cannot change anyone to my liking. That has worked well for me.  It may or may not for you.

Forgiveness doesn't mean you allow the transgressor to treat you like a doormat or automatically reconcile with them. Forgiveness means you let go of the situation and move on so you can grow and mature.  If the transgressor asks for forgiveness and wants to reconcile, then it's your call to move on with it or not.  It's moral to choose yes or no in my opinion. I've heard this in my church many times. It has worked for me - again may not work in your situation.

I know I sound like a smarty pants, but this is true from Tolstoy - "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."  If you want more on the problems of hubris, not listening to common sense, forgiveness vs reconciliation, anger, and a lot more than I'm seeing, here is a great short (very, very short) story written by Tolstoy that I think about a lot - God Sees The Truth, But Waits:

www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2061/










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« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2019, 07:04:08 PM »


Oh...forgot to mention earlier there is a massive difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.

I've forgiven my in-laws and harbor no ill will.  They are unwilling to take any steps towards reconciliation, so I respect their choice and live my life separately (and much calmer I might add).

Best,

FF

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« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2019, 08:23:30 PM »

However, in this case..parents say bad things (purportedly) and your wife expends energy.

Do you see how that hands dysfunctional people power?  They can make you expend energy whenever they want by saying untrue and whacky things.

That's the basic version.  Can you see this?

Yep, that makes sense, thanks. Sadly that's going to take some work, because purging aside, hearing what they do does still cause all sorts of emotions and disruption with us. In fact, so much has been going on the past few months that eats at us, that both my wife and I are falling behind at work and having physical manifestations (back spasms, etc.). So despite our increasing efforts, we still have a lot of work to do to because they do have control in a lot of ways. In fact, my sister sent my wife a FB message tonight asking if she can talk to our daughter. Such a stark contrast from everything. And I've been thinking about it ever since!

Is it possible to take a break from the family (the usual no response on social media, text or vm) for two weeks to try out NC?  If you don't like it or don't feel ready, not too much time is lost to return to what you are doing now.

We've been trying to take a break. I'm slowing realizing the NC may be indefinite. Problem is they still find ways to get to us. My wife intends to unfriend my sister soon to cut off the FB messaging. My brother and dad still can email me at work because we all work in the same large company. And then there's them leaving presents at our door. So the cutoff isn't perfect, but thus far we haven't responded to anything that's broken through our NC, which the exception of me talking to my dad before his surgery.

Forgiveness doesn't mean you allow the transgressor to treat you like a doormat or automatically reconcile with them. Forgiveness means you let go of the situation and move on so you can grow and mature.  If the transgressor asks for forgiveness and wants to reconcile, then it's your call to move on with it or not.  It's moral to choose yes or no in my opinion. I've heard this in my church many times. It has worked for me - again may not work in your situation.

That's along the lines of what I'm trying to tell myself. Even though my mom has sent a couple of "apologies", they didn't seem close to sincere, much less acknowledging any more than a fraction of what she's done. Even though I'm certain even that came with much difficulty for her, I'm more certain nothing would change with a reconciliation. As far as I can tell they are being nice and saying what they think they need to say because it's my daughter's birthday and they're realizing we aren't backing down. I'm concerned any reconciliation comes at a cost to our emotional/mental well being.

And thanks, I'll check out the Tolstoy story!

Oh...forgot to mention earlier there is a massive difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.

I've forgiven my in-laws and harbor no ill will.  They are unwilling to take any steps towards reconciliation, so I respect their choice and live my life separately (and much calmer I might add).

We're working on the no ill will part. In fact, part of our Sunday School lesson discussed letting go of anger, which became another point of deep discussion. I've been hesitant to let go of that anger, because it's what I tap into when the FOG starts to control me. I feel like it's giving me strength to protect my family, and reminds me why I am. It's been suggested to me by someone familiar with BPD that my anger is a self defense mechanism I've developed.

So both my wife and I have a way to go with the forgiveness part, and navigating it's distinction from reconciliation. Because in my case my family would like nothing more to reconcile, but I've finally realized that in this case reconciliation is mutually exclusive with avoiding the dysfunction.
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« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2019, 09:13:59 PM »

  Sadly that's going to take some work, because purging aside, hearing what they do does still cause all sorts of emotions and disruption with us. 

And...that's your work to do..not your parents.  (does that seem fair?) 

Not to say that I've totally worked this out, but for me it was helpful to shift the situation to the ridiculous.

So..my wife or someone else would imply (or directly say) that I was a (fill in your lovely accusation).

I would shift that to "I was a martian, or flying monkey..or something ridiculous"

Then I would also remember that what comes out of someone else's mouth is a reflection on them...not me.

It's not a straight line to acceptance of this, but it helped me to be deliberate about it. 

Now I care much more about my opinion of me and much less about the opinion of others.


Best,

FF
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« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2019, 09:30:08 PM »

Not fair at all, but I’ve learned that BPD isn’t fair for anyone!

That’s a good way to handle the accusations. Though what gets to me most is when my guilt strings are tugged at. Tonight I got another email from my mom, with 3 words... “Please contact me”. Obvious observation that I haven’t blocked email yet aside, those 3 words are eating me. Wondering what she wants. What her state of mind is. Wondering if she’s mad for us not responding to anything else. Wondering if she’s apologetic and pitiful. Wondering if she found out my friend reported her on FB and now thinks we did it.

I’ve been driving myself crazy constantly trying to eject those thoughts and remind myself why I’m not responding.

3 words... and she’s had a hold of my mind ever since. That’s control.
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« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2019, 10:22:19 PM »

FF, I get the impression you’re a guy. I think it’s harder to break things off/deal with a female bpd for men IMO.

PD, if you don’t mind me saying, it seems like you truly want to want to stay in contact. You keep checking messages and roping in other family members. It’s ok to stay.. You can use the tactics listed here to make the jarring behavior a bit more tolerable.

Remember, you can’t change opinions they have of you or your spouse. You can keep trying. Maybe you’ll succeed. You know your parents better than us. I have not changed opinions but have told my parents knock it off or x will happen. X did happen when didn’t knock it off. They’ve stopped sometimes which has helped me.

If you need anger, take it. Anger is not bad as long as you don’t let it turn into longstanding rage or revenge. Use it as energy to improve the situation.

Daily meditation has helped me deal with a lot of items. It’s helped me to think more strategically and develop new ideas to resolve issues. Sometimes it has brought up anger I stuffed because I was afraid to deal with something. I didn’t realize how mad I was.

Here’s a free series from UCLA Medical School- https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations

Good luck & hope you can make some headway.
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« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2019, 10:51:48 PM »

Hi TelHill,

I don’t think it’s that I want to stay in communication, but more that closing off each means of communication is getting harder each time. I really don’t want to hear from any of them, but I want to be able to be reached in an emergency. Until a few weeks ago I was also holding hope for an attempt at real apology. I’m not actively checking email messages, they just show up on my phone.

Honestly I’m getting close to finally blocking on email too. Unfortunately I think I’m out of luck with my work email, but I haven’t explored my options yet. Now that my parents are in the outs with my dad’s siblings, that route is going away too. Which is a little sad for me since that’s how I was able to get updated on my dad’s health.  

I know them having access to me, regardless of whether I respond, might not be true NC, but I’m slowly working my way there.
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« Reply #27 on: November 12, 2019, 07:32:09 AM »


3 words... and she’s had a hold of my mind ever since. That’s control.

Yep..it certainly is. 

Who is in charge of control of your mind/thoughts?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #28 on: November 12, 2019, 07:36:15 AM »

  Which is a little sad for me since that’s how I was able to get updated on my dad’s health.  

What is your goal with NC/LC, whatever we are calling it?  (totally understand if it's not exactly worked out yet..sometimes you just need some space to start thinking)

How important is it for you to keep updated on your Dad's health?


Best,

FF

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« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2019, 12:22:53 AM »

Staff only

This thread reached the post limit and has been locked and split.  Part 2 is located here: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=340888.msg13086745#msg13086745

Thank you.
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