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Author Topic: Holiday success, mostly  (Read 194 times)
pursuingJoy
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« on: December 01, 2019, 06:34:58 AM »

I was really dreading seeing my BPD MIL for Thanksgiving but thankfully, thanks to a suggestion by the MC to schedule and structure visits, I felt good this time.

We arrived at the agreed time. Minor hiccups when H added an hour to our visit without checking with me, and his mom very passionately gushed to my youngest SD11 on the way out the door, "Hows your mom? Hows her boyfriend? Are they doing ok? You make sure to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving from me ok?" This is the same ex she hated when she was married to my H, and the same person whose name she called me for a year and a half. But this time, I could laugh. It was an attempt to send a message to me. I didn't say a word, just smiled and said goodbye, thanks for hosting. I was pretty happy with the way I stayed politely present with her, generally engaged and I found joy in playing games with the kids. H sulked the entire time, no idea why, and he stayed close to his mom the entire time. They declined our invitations to join us for games. He's been in a mood since we left but I am ok. I did it.

Not perfect on anyone's part but better. I survived the holiday. How about you?
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2019, 03:45:52 PM »

Glad to hear you survived seeing your MIL for Thanksgiving and that the strategies you devised to deal with your MIL and other family members meant that you did not get too upset by what you could not control and did everything you could do to enjoy the holiday. My Thanksgiving went well, and I spent it with friends. I did not allow myself to play the tape all about how I am unwanted and maligned by the family. I think we sometimes underestimate how much we need to properly prepare for the next encounter with the people with BPD and NPD in our lives. If we don't have good boundaries already established and are still hoping to get some kind of validation from our highly dysfunctional family members then we are headed for another upsetting encounter. If we are able to realize that the interactions with these family members will never be emotionally reciprocal and it is all about them then we can usually keep our emotions from getting out of hand. You did a great job of being nice to your MIL while keeping your distance and allowing yourself to enjoy Thanksgiving with the family. You also did not allow your husband's emotional discomfort to affect you, let him be responsible for his own feelings. Great story and examples on how to deal with disordered family members when we are in their presence!
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2019, 04:14:04 PM »

Z I'm glad you chose to spend the day with people who appreciate you! I think of you often as I know settling the estate with your family takes a good deal of emotional energy.

I think we sometimes underestimate how much we need to properly prepare for the next encounter with the people with BPD and NPD in our lives. If we don't have good boundaries already established and are still hoping to get some kind of validation from our highly dysfunctional family members then we are headed for another upsetting encounter.

Great story and examples on how to deal with disordered family members when we are in their presence!

Thanks for sharing in my small success  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)  and this was well said, it is so important to prepare for encounters. Going through the motions of responding the way we'd planned protects us and firms up the boundary.
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« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2019, 04:52:25 PM »

I think we sometimes underestimate how much we need to properly prepare for the next encounter with the people with BPD and NPD in our lives. If we don't have good boundaries already established and are still hoping to get some kind of validation from our highly dysfunctional family members then we are headed for another upsetting encounter.

If we are able to realize that the interactions with these family members will never be emotionally reciprocal and it is all about them then we can usually keep our emotions from getting out of hand.

PJ,
Echoing Zachria here because it eloquently states a lesson that I am still learning, and that I thought would be good to read again.

Good job getting through it.

A thought about why your husband seems to become clingy to mom. From personal experience with BPD mom. We learn to mirror our mothers emotions so well, we do not realize we are doing it. Always seeking the validation that "this is fun right?" and that "she is okay."
I functioned as my mom's airbag. Never hoping I had to be utilized, but prepared to defend or soothe, or distract if I picked up on her cues.

Exhausting stuff. I hope there will be plenty of time away from his family so that you can enjoy the holiday together and he can feel relief.

One more question and I may be late to asking, but Does your husband believe his mother has BPD?
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« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2019, 06:20:26 PM »

I matter, there is something about the way you describe your relationship with your mom that is soooo helpful to me. It feels so genuine and lived. Thank you.

No he doesn't know. Our MC mentioned it to me in an individual session but will not bring it up with him, says he will need to show that he is interested I knowing. He is pretty profoundly enmeshed and not at all willing to accept that his mom is anything more than a 'little quirky.'

I could give ten examples of how she's manipulated him into a flying monkey for her purposes, or to insert herself in our relationship, even ruin his birthday, but he insists that his mom doesn't ask for anything, is not too much, that I'm the problem and I overreact. It's been challenging, but that's why we are here, right? Let me know when you hear from your brother.
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2019, 12:45:29 AM »

Excerpt
his mom very passionately gushed to my youngest SD11 on the way out the door, "Hows your mom? Hows her boyfriend? Are they doing ok? You make sure to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving from me ok?" This is the same ex she hated when she was married to my H, and the same person whose name she called me for a year and a half.

This was the hook she tried to bait you with...

Excerpt
I didn't say a word, just smiled and said goodbye, thanks for hosting.

...but you didn't take the hook! Way to go! (click to insert in post)  You took the high road, and felt good for it Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

What a reward!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 12:55:26 AM by Methuen » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2019, 12:53:51 AM »

Excerpt
We learn to mirror our mothers emotions so well, we do not realize we are doing it.

PJ, I'm just curious... have you noticed a pattern with your H...are his "good days" the same as his mom's, and his "bad days" the same as his mom's, when he is around her?

I became aware of this in myself, and am currently working on detaching my emotions from my mother, and not being responsible for her emotions. Or, put another way...
Excerpt
I functioned as my mom's airbag. Never hoping I had to be utilized, but prepared to defend or soothe, or distract if I picked up on her cues.

Just curious if you have noticed a pattern there.
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2019, 04:20:29 AM »

Thanks for sharing in my success, Methuen! I always would have responded that way to her, but then come home and vented to or sought support from my H. I know now that I cannot do that, which is the real change here. It makes me sad, but I'm accepting what I can and cannot change, so radical acceptance i guess.

When I knew his mom was upset, it was very clear that his emotions mirrored hers...it was eery sometimes.  Since we saw her at the birthday party early this month he seems calmer, so I can only assume its because she does.

He keeps their conversations hidden from me so I cant get a one for one comparison. I do know that on Thanksgiving when we went to see her, he was short with me before we left, he sulked at me the whole time, but his mom seemed mostly like she was happy...there, he didnt mirror her emotion, but he doesn't share anything about his conversations with his mom, so maybe there was more going on.

I did find out that she's planning to move an hour or so to where her siblings live. She lamented several times about this being the last Thanksgiving in his childhood home. Weve heard this conversation about moving 20 or 30 times in the past five years, so I'm not confident she will actually do it, I think she's pouring salt on his wound. I'm sure he feels massive guilt over her moving nearer to them and not us, and he blames me.

« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 04:26:58 AM by pursuingJoy » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2019, 06:54:32 AM »

I still believe in the airbag analogy, and yesterday was my first time thinking of it that way, but I wanted to add another dimension.

A lot of time spent with my mom I put on an act. To the untrained eye I think I could appear “happy bc mom is acting happy” but my husband could call my bluff. This “sulking” your describing.. do you think other family perceives him this way or just you?

I can’t tell you how many times that just the knowledge that a nice time together could turn ....and likely would  into accusations of “not really caring or loving” my mom left me dejected even when the event was still going on.

My anxiety was at such a level that my irritation could be provoked at the smallest thing. And I’ll say it again here... I always wanted my husband to know how to deal with me, with the tact and patience of a saint.

Walking on eggshells is the best way to describe it. When you do that in nearly every encounter with someone it is a normal survival tactic to either become irrationally angry or emotionally withdrawn.
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2019, 08:08:20 AM »

I still believe in the airbag analogy, and yesterday was my first time thinking of it that way, but I wanted to add another dimension.

I really like the airbag analogy.

A lot of time spent with my mom I put on an act. To the untrained eye I think I could appear “happy bc mom is acting happy” but my husband could call my bluff. This “sulking” your describing.. do you think other family perceives him this way or just you?

My 18 year old nephew, who was visiting us for the first time, noticed that he seemed "out of it." I don't know that his mom cares how her son feels as much as she cares how she feels, and she needs her needs to be met. I think she felt like he was behaving as a loyal son...staying with her, making sure she felt comfortable.

I can’t tell you how many times that just the knowledge that a nice time together could turn ....and likely would  into accusations of “not really caring or loving” my mom left me dejected even when the event was still going on.

My anxiety was at such a level that my irritation could be provoked at the smallest thing. And I’ll say it again here... I always wanted my husband to know how to deal with me, with the tact and patience of a saint.

Walking on eggshells is the best way to describe it. When you do that in nearly every encounter with someone it is a normal survival tactic to either become irrationally angry or emotionally withdrawn.

This explains why he exploded that night.

I can genuinely see how much he's carrying, and again, you put it in a way that I can actually picture what's happening in his head, and what he wants from me. When I didn't understand it, I used to help him carry it. Then I became a target for her, and I didn't like that, so I screwed up by trying to point out that his mom was to blame.

GaGrl and others are encouraging me to let him feel his own discomfort instead of carrying it for him. It's counterintuitive for both of us. You are so right. He wants me to help him and take it away! He thinks I created this. He is angry with me because he genuinely believes I can fix all of this by "just talking to her."

He resents me and perhaps he feels unloved because I won't help?

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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2019, 09:30:11 AM »


I can genuinely see how much he's carrying, and again, you put it in a way that I can actually picture what's happening in his head, and what he wants from me. When I didn't understand it, I used to help him carry it. Then I became a target for her, and I didn't like that, so I screwed up by trying to point out that his mom was to blame.


My husband could carry stuff for me for a while when he was still "fresh" and mom wasn't comfortable with him yet. And when he said things to her even slightly correctional or in my defense she had bad reactions that have left with his own hurts, anger, and a huge wall up. Like you are no doubt feeling now.


GaGrl and others are encouraging me to let him feel his own discomfort instead of carrying it for him. It's counterintuitive for both of us. You are so right. He wants me to help him and take it away! He thinks I created this. He is angry with me because he genuinely believes I can fix all of this by "just talking to her."

He resents me and perhaps he feels unloved because I won't help?


The resentment for me comes from the fact that navigating a relationship that is supposed to be safe and supportive but it just cannot be. Jealousy comes out that my husband doesn't have this level of emotional warfare on his end.  Our mothers (mine and your H?) are bottomless pits. Always needing more than one person can give so often times we are giving out of a negative balance.

Depending on our significant others to fill us back up and quickly please please. Why cant mom just feel love for goodness sake!! I gave her everything I have. Heartbreaking!! Why can't she ever check in to see if I am having a good time or be happy for my joys?

Now I don't feel loved either, and omg...HUSBAND YOU LOVE ME RIGHT???? Please don't see flaws in me I just want and need love.

Or the other shoe to this, I'm mad at Husband bc maybe he could have done something to help my mom feel love too... and he didn't.
(Impossible)



« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 09:40:21 AM by Imatter33 » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2019, 11:16:09 AM »

This is so interesting. It's like you give me a little window into my H.

My husband could carry stuff for me for a while when he was still "fresh" and mom wasn't comfortable with him yet. And when he said things to her even slightly correctional or in my defense she had bad reactions that have left with his own hurts, anger, and a huge wall up. Like you are no doubt feeling now.

It's weird, but I feel affirmed when you understand and can explain.

I am trying so hard to interpret what he says. He will say, "you were fine, you said nothing, then all of a sudden, you freaked out."

That is not at all true. I've been hurt by her behavior for years, and I shared my frustration with him pretty frequently. He dismissed it and my feelings because he wasn't able to accept what he was hearing. My patience wore thin, and when she crossed a significant boundary, I realized he would not defend our boundary or us, and I spoke up emotionally, but respectfully.

In light of that, I think I need to interpret what he said to mean, "I was comfortable with the way things were, then you spoke up and hurt mom. Now look what you've done." This allows me to spend less time feeling like I'm the twilight zone defending things I know actually happened, and more time understanding his emotion.

The resentment for me comes from the fact that navigating a relationship that is supposed to be safe and supportive but it just cannot be.

I feel this way 100% too.

Jealousy comes out that my husband doesn't have this level of emotional warfare on his end.  Our mothers (mine and your H?) are bottomless pits. Always needing more than one person can give so often times we are giving out of a negative balance.

Depending on our significant others to fill us back up and quickly please please. Why cant mom just feel love for goodness sake!! I gave her everything I have. Heartbreaking!! Why can't she ever check in to see if I am having a good time or be happy for my joys?

Now I don't feel loved either, and omg...HUSBAND YOU LOVE ME RIGHT???? Please don't see flaws in me I just want and need love.

Or the other shoe to this, I'm mad at Husband bc maybe he could have done something to help my mom feel love too... and he didn't.
(Impossible)

Here's where you and he differ. He will say his mom is a little quirky then quickly launch into how wonderful she is, never demanding, so sacrificial, loving and good, just a poor elderly lady that I'm refusing to love. He has dug in on this since I set a boundary with her 5 months ago. I understand how I played a part in this by triangulating.

You can accept that your mom is a lot for you. He states that it is nothing but an honor to take care of his mom and be her person. He wants to tell her everything, he needs her love and attention.

On the other hand, he was taught that you should prioritize your relationship with your wife, so he talks about this, but he can't seem to make that value come to life. It's really an interesting thing to watch.

You understand and explain your emotion, and he's not able to do that. He feels upset and rages, and he can't explain what he's thinking, and that's so frustrating for me. So thank you. You're really unraveling a mystery for me and I'm so grateful.
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2019, 11:46:41 AM »

Hi pJ!

It sounds to me like this was a success and you did really well.   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Quote from:  pursuingJoy
In light of that, I think I need to interpret what he said to mean, "I was comfortable with the way things were, then you spoke up and hurt mom. Now look what you've done." This allows me to spend less time feeling like I'm the twilight zone defending things I know actually happened, and more time understanding his emotion.
I think this is pretty accurate.  I do think it is important to understand where his feelings are coming from and how a lot of his feelings are deeply ingrained and conditioned.  You get that though.  It is equally important for you to take that information and put it into a more workable context in terms of self-care and staying out of the twilight zone and sometimes JADEing.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2019, 12:59:08 PM »

Thanks Harri. That means a lot.  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

I do think it is important to understand where his feelings are coming from and how a lot of his feelings are deeply ingrained and conditioned.  You get that though.  It is equally important for you to take that information and put it into a more workable context in terms of self-care and staying out of the twilight zone and sometimes JADEing.

I am 100% still JADEing. If I read back through my posts, I can hear it.

Not gonna lie, this is a lot. I have to process emotions for both of us. He is terrified, but instead of voicing that, he attacks me. Not only do I have to quickly process and suspend my own emotional reaction to the attack, I have to stay clear-headed enough to guess what he might be feeling, respond with the appropriate validating statement, then have the presence of mind to step back and take care of myself. I know that's the goal but I'm not there yet. At the moment, the most I can do is recognize my limitations, shut up and let him talk, then walk away.

I'm currently working on discarding any hope of emotional intimacy. I have to reset realistic expectations for our marriage. That's super sad for me.

If anyone else treated me the way he did, I would have set a very firm boundary limiting their access to me. If he behaved like this in the beginning, I never would have married him. I guess that's true for most of us.
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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2019, 01:38:36 PM »

I keep reading through how NOT to be invalidating...ugh. I have so much work to do. I am so stuck in my own depression it's hard to think about!

Be Present and Open Turn off the TV, step away from the computer, or stop washing the dishes, and lean forward and show you are paying attention and carefully listening. Hear the facts, nod your head, ask questions - take it all in before starting to form an opinion or evaluate (judge).

Accurate Reflection Communicate back that you've heard the other person accurately, and without bias. This can be done by repeating what the person said, though it can be better to paraphrase so you don't sound like a parrot. Proves that you are listening to what the other person is saying.

Reading Between the Lines/ Mindreading  Create a hypothesis about what you believe the other person is trying to say but maybe "not" expressing well. You can narrow this down by asking a question - guessing and asking if ___________ is accurate.

Validating in Terms of Personal History or Biology  We are an amalgamation of what has happened in our lives. On some level, based on our history, our actions make sense. If we ever lived through a tornado, for example, we would have a higher response to the warning sirens than others. Letting the other person know that their behavior makes sense based on their past experiences shows understanding. Our physical problems also influence how we behave. A person who has a bad back has difficulty sitting for long periods of time. Making reference to their limitations shows understanding and empathy.

Normalizing  It helps to communicate that others would have the same response, where we can authentically say this. When we normalize what people are feeling we find a way to communicate that the experience is part "human", that anyone in the same situation would feel the same way.  We avoid shaming or giving the message of being defective. This is powerful. Of course, there are things you shouldn't normalize, such as suicidal behavior. Don't normalize behavior that is not normal.

Radical Genuineness Be completely (radically) genuine. To be radically genuine is to ensure that we are not remedial and we don't marginalize, condescend, or talk down to the person you are trying to validate. And we don't want to treat them as fragile or any differently than you would treat anyone else in a similar situation.
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« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2019, 01:41:18 PM »

Hiya!

Excerpt
I am 100% still JADEing. If I read back through my posts, I can hear it.
That's okay especially because you are aware of it.  

Excerpt
At the moment, the most I can do is recognize my limitations, shut up and let him talk, then walk away.
I think this is good sometimes too.  Actually, sometimes that is the best thing to do.  I say that more in terms of self care for you.  The tools can help our loved ones, but to me, the primary purpose it to help us manage our reactions and emotions.  To me Jade'ing was the same as begging,
So not jade'ing help me be okay with me and my actions.  It probably means something different to you and something different to someone else.   Figure what works for you and when you can use it.  

You are correct that it is overwhelming to keep track of everything especially when the issue has such an emotional impact on us.  I get it.  I did not mention it as a criticism though, just as something to try to incorporate when you can.  You have already made huge progress so keep it up.   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Don't JADE was not a tool I had when my mom was alive but looking back I used it without knowing.  After I came here, I also used it with some people at work, a BPD roommate and a short term boyfriend.  Very different relationships than the one you have with your husband.  I get that too.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2019, 01:45:46 PM »

I just read your most recent post.  It is a lot PJ. 

What do you think would help you at this point?  Being heard (by your husband) or at least having a chance to be heard?  Something else?  What can we do?
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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2019, 02:44:12 PM »

Just occurred to me...

Do you think your husband is connecting the loss of emotional intimacy (which I have to believe is being keenly felt by both of you and is part of his frustration) with his concerning behaviors that make you feel unsafe?

Because I could rarely feel emotionally safe and thus intimate until I was with my current husband.

When that trust ( "I am safe with you") is there, it is so easy to slip into intimacy when you want it, when you need it. When that trust is gone, there's a barrier to the intimacy. It becomes a lonely way to live.  Even sex becomes fulfilling when the trust barrier exists.

If your husband isn't making the connection, what can you and your MC do to help him get there, do you think?
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« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2019, 03:11:05 PM »

Don't JADE was not a tool I had when my mom was alive but looking back I used it without knowing.  After I came here, I also used it with some people at work, a BPD roommate and a short term boyfriend.

Isn't it cool how we sometimes naturally develop effective responses? Love it. Way to go! (click to insert in post)

I just read your most recent post.  It is a lot PJ.  

What do you think would help you at this point?  Being heard (by your husband) or at least having a chance to be heard?  Something else?  What can we do?

I just appreciate y'all being here. I need encouragement. I needed the validation from the MC this morning. I do wish my husband could hear me but radical acceptance tells me that's not going to happen anytime soon.

I'm starting to identify emotions and how to effectively address them. If I start feeling 'crazy' I know I need support and validation and I have a few places where I can find it. If I feel stuck or powerless, I know I'm slipping into victim mode and I stop to think about what I have control over. I still don't have an antidote for overwhelmed Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

Thanks for being here. It means a lot to know that you're here, and you care. I appreciate you.

Do you think your husband is connecting the loss of emotional intimacy (which I have to believe is being keenly felt by both of you and is part of his frustration) with his concerning behaviors that make you feel unsafe?

If your husband isn't making the connection, what can you and your MC do to help him get there, do you think?

You described it beautifully, and those are very good questions. I want to see how I can work with this. I will follow the MC's lead in our session tonight. I may make an effort to verbalize this, though the vulnerability is exhausting. I'm getting really tired of baring my soul to someone who doesn't seem to care, so I may have to feel this out and see how it's going. This is super important, though - I agree, he has to feel it too.

Thank you. I'm at a particularly low point and I really needed you today.
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« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2019, 03:31:21 PM »

PJ,

I hear how tired you are so I hope you can find an opportunity to take a breather.

Good luck with MC.
Proud of you.
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