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Author Topic: When your family won't honor NC? Part 2  (Read 415 times)
ProudDad12
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« on: March 15, 2020, 03:34:04 PM »

Mod Note:  Part 1 of this thread is here:  https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=343518.0

I would take any thought of "closure" and get rid of it.

None of my ideas have them "seeing the light".  

My ideas are things YOU can do that will calm things and reduce the aount of reactivity.

Much of what you describe is "creep" to get over your boundaries.  That's why YOU determine the setting and boundaries ahead of time.  They WILL try to "creep" and do other things from time to time.  You enforce the boundaries and the situation will calm, one way or another.

Think about "the other side" of this and if you are willing to make changes on the "other side" (your current course) then I would support you staying that course.

So, next time a family vehicle comes down the road, proudly stay in your front yard and call the authorities.  What they learned from last time is they can make you run, which I think will make it more likely they do it again.

Not trying to be argumentative or say you are wrong or that you need to do this ASAP.  

I DO hope you see that your current course of "running away" isn't sustainable.  Spending the next xx years reacting to them is going to take a toll.  I see them reacting to you being much less of a toll on you.

I don't see a pathway forward without a cost....sad to say.

Best,

FF

I don't disagree one bit. I do feel my hand is going to be forced one way or another, and right now I'm hating both options. I know they will likely never see the light, but unfortunately that is probably what would be necessary for there to be reconciliation, given the stakes for our end (i.e., our children), so it just brings me back to the "indefinite NC" side of things.

Side note, my wife read my last post, and she pointed out that if I/we met my parents, the underhandedness of any boundary crossing would make a clear reaction to leave difficult, plus since they were meeting us, they would be getting their way and have no reason to lash out. The lashing out happens later when things don't continue going their way, but by then they've hypothetically seen our kids, who I don't want to put on a roller coaster. Not sure why I say that other than to recognize additional wrinkles.

I do hate that I went inside when they came. I just didn't have a better idea at the time. And outside observers (minus the "God wants families to be together" camp) are telling me it's time for HR reporting and/or a restraining order. It's not that I disagree, it's just a hard thing to get my mind around. And I want to proceed with caution because that's a door I can't close (sure, I can cancel an RO, but the damage is done).

I guess what I'm saying is I'm not really in a place of objective thinking right now. Trying to get there though. Just a lot to process and figure out, and all of it sucks.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 08:53:35 AM by Harri » Logged
GaGrl
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2020, 03:57:33 PM »

Let's talk about the objective thinking.

If you were to write out the (say) three areas of the relationship that caused you to go NC, and that (in your wife's phrase, which I love) would require introspection on their part, what would those points be? Can you raise them from a specific example to the pattern of behavior that you came to rejecy?

This might give you a great deal of clarity.
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2020, 10:56:55 PM »

  I just didn't have a better idea at the time.

Likely because it was on their timing...not yours.

That's what I'm encouraging you to do...take back the control, power and timing.

Don't worry about what they are getting...you are getting your power back.

Best,

FF
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GaGrl
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2020, 12:12:40 AM »

That's why I suggested the Top 3 (or whatever) priorities...WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

I.e. ...

You must respect my wife and my marriage.

You must respect my parenting decisions.

What else?

What do these values look like in daily life? What do they look like when violated (when you get up and walk away)?I

Believe me...My grandparents were stunned when my dad moved us 200 miles away when I was six weeks old. They had no idea that my dad could hold boundaries that level. (Mind you, he was Greatest Generation, European Theater, Bronze Star...but his MIL thought she could mess with him...not gonna happen). Keeping us away from the locus of control was a HUGE gift that my father gave my sister and me. We retained a sense of connectedness yet no sense of overt control.

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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2020, 07:25:03 AM »

I think that to achieve a certain level of distance, you might consider moving farther away to where they just can't easily "show up".

That has certainly helped us achieve some distance, even if we kids are still in contact. Since my mother has no regard for boundaries, physical distance is one. I am still close enough that visiting her is possible, but it isn't a quick day trip. I'm far way enough that she just can't "show up".

As to your child's behavioral issues. Did she have a lot of contact with your parents? Although I made sure my kids were not left with my mother alone, I also realized that her behavior "bothers" me more than it bothers my kids. She raised me- the emotional connections are greater. She didn't raise them. They are older now, and have seen her behavior but they are more concerned with how I feel than how they feel. They can ignore her but they don't like to see me get upset. Since I did't raise them with the same dynamics, they actually have more solid emotional boundaries with her.

I don't think you caused your child's behavior problems- I want to make that clear. But I noticed with my kids that, when they were younger, if I was anxious and upset- they would also act more anxious and upset. Unless your child had frequent contact and drama with your mother, I wonder if her improved behavior is also reflective of you being less drawn into the family drama?- and so being calmer.

One thing that has helped me a lot was to work on co-dependency and my own boundaries with her.

I think our aim here isn't to tell you to go NC or LC- that's your choice, but the hope is to encourage you to get a handle on you- your feelings and how you respond- to put you in the driver's seat of the boundary- be proactive and not reactive. This is also complicated as you want to please your wife too, but the emotional issue is between you and your family and you need to manage this in a way you can handle. I also wonder if part of her upset with your parents is how it upsets you- and if you are able to manage that better, so will she?

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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2020, 07:32:41 AM »


And please don't hear me "telling" you that LC is the only way or what you should do.

It seems obvious to me that before more drastic measures (such as moving) are done, that it would be wise to try LC with you firmly in control.

Perhaps I picked up a vibe that "they wouldn't be bad enough at a restaurant for us to have to leave"?

Did I get that right?

Is that in their opinion or your opinion? 

In my LC option, you are the determiner of "enough". 

Best,

FF

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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2020, 01:50:52 PM »

And if their behavior is tolerable in public, then that is a possible boundary.


You have raised small children, so you know how behavior management works. It isn't about sitting the 4 year old down and asking for some insight as to why they hit their brother last month. Basically, if they hit their brother, the immediate response is time out. If they are playing nice, then the reward is they get to play. It's not that they won't ever smack their brother. They will. It's not about controlling them. It's about deciding what you will do when/if they smack their brother.

If you are consistent, they will get the message: if you want to play with your brother, you need to play nice.

This is the same thing with your parents. Expecting them to come to some epiphany over their behavior, well you might as well wait to win the lottery without buying a ticket cause it's not going to happen. Forming your response to whether or not they will ever push your boundaries again also isn't going to work well.

The decision- if you choose contact with them is in the moment. If you want to play, you need to play nice . If you don't act at least civil, then you will leave. If they don't give you a reason to leave- Good!!

You also can't go on motive, just behavior. Much of their behavior isn't about plotting to get you and your family. It's about wanting what they want in the moment. Like a kid who wants a candy bar and has a tantrum. The kid isn't out to get you. He wants a candy bar.

My mother has no insight to her behavior, and often can't even remember it. She gets so dysregulated she just isn't thinking . Yes, she's manipulative, and even purposely hurtful. She also lies. But it isn't because she's out to get me. It's that she wants what she wants in the moment and does whatever she thinks she needs to do to get it. Her behavior is not about me.

I choose LC because, NC is not something I could do and find any sense of peace with myself. LC has allowed me to protect myself and my family. It's enough because I can emotionally manage it. That decision isn't based on my mother- it's based on me and my own values.

This is where you will find your stregth and reserve- when you choose the option that works best for you. This may not be how your wife wants it- but she isn't going to have the internal struggle you have over a decision that you don't feel OK with. It may take some counseling if you feel differently than she does about this. But ultimately - you being OK as much as possible with your choice will help you to handle it best.
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2020, 03:13:20 PM »

PD,

My gc brother was married for ten years. He and his then wife had a daughter. I went from NC to LC because I fell in love with my toddler niece. I had a front row seat to how my parents viewed & treated my SIL. My dBPDm went off the rails about her to my enabler dad and me. Never in front of SIL. My enabler dad did her dirty work. He never acted like that publicly before or since.

I could be offbase - but do enablers acting like a BPD parent require different tools? I don’t know what they are besides Radical Acceptance. Continuing to keep your marriage a strong one would be my suggestion. You are doing a great job of putting your wife & kids first.

My SIL ended up leaving & divorcing my brother. Maybe it wasn’t meant to last. I can’t help but think that my parents had some part in it. My gc brother has never stood up to my parents.
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zachira
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2020, 03:42:55 PM »

Telhill,
You are wondering if enablers require different tools than the family members with BPD. There are several enablers in my family who are/were married to a person with BPD. My brothers, one who has BPD, never married because they allowed my mother with BPD to ruin every relationship they had. I think we see many enablers on other boards who just can't leave a toxic relationship when in some cases there seems to be no reason to stay. I would say in general that it is extremely painful for anyone to face making endless bad decisions about what kind of person they choose to be with in an intimate relationship or whether they are going to allow disordered parents to interfere in their relationship with their significant other. It is like the alcoholics and drug addicts who have to face all the wasted years drinking and taking drugs while those who enable them often go to well known support groups like Alanon and therapy for many years to build a strong enough inner core so they will no longer be so codependent. Many codependents are capable of change and making a better life for themselves if they are willing to face their pain and what got them to make so many bad decisions about how they conduct themselves in family relationships. Then again, some codependents seem to be on the personality disorder spectrum and may be so impaired they possibly cannot make better decisions about their family relationships.
'
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:51:58 PM by zachira » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2020, 07:55:17 PM »

Hi zachira,

Thanks. I appreciate you writing all this out. I am aware of most of what you have said.

Except I haven’t been on the boards long enough to see an enabler be as dysfunctional & irrational as the bpd partner for an extended time.  I am appreciate you noted these things.

Like you, I want PD to stop suffering. I thought that he may need something different to help him. The tools have helped me detaching from dBPDm when near her.  My enabling dad can be stubborn and like a weather vane in his undying devotion to my mom.  He does not suffer from BPD. He’s sane.

To PD, I found Codependent’s Anonymous to be helpful with all all my FOO, especially my dad. Their website has a lot of great information. Take a look to see if it’s apropos. They have online meetings, which is very helpful in these shelter-in-place days.

I am not Codependent with relationships, but the BPD family dynamic can bring it out due to those strong family bonds.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 08:02:43 PM by TelHill » Logged
ProudDad12
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2020, 09:02:06 PM »

Sorry, I haven't been ignoring all this, this week has been crazy thanks to COVID-19 and the implications with both our jobs and daughter's school. In a way it's been a distraction, but all this has still been lingering in the back of my head. Sorry if this post is disjointed, it's like my 11th attempt or something at writing it. Our son kept waking up crying last night, every time I got settled back down to type.

I've been struggling to make a meaningful response. I appreciate the challenging insight, and have been wrestling with it.

FF, yes, I would love to take control of my life. Or even my own head for that matter (since they seem to live in it pretty well). And I get what you're saying. I'm trying to think this through, and going back and trying to remember past examples, where we literally met them in restaurants halfway. I think my trouble is less about who dictates what's enough, and more that we don't even notice half the stuff until we're gone and conversations sink in. With my family, it's (usually) not about talking verbal blows, at least until our refusal to play by their rules frustrates them enough. I'm sitting here with my wife trying my best to find a way to articulate this. It's just so subtle. Just a slow build of FOG and tension. You know those bucket fountains that fill with water until they tip over, then tip back and repeat? It's kinda like that. And I feel like LC is merely holding my hand out to try blocking the water.

I know I'm talking in circles and not being productive to what you're trying to help me accomplish, and I'm sorry. Ironically, this NC was my attempt to take the reins of our life and assert some control. They're just fighting it and I'm quavering on the next step to push back.

For what it's worth, I (at least in my own mind) had taken the stance a couple years back that we were done playing by their rules, and I was going to move forward with lowered contact and stronger (and enforced) boundaries/priorities. The bucket still tipped over again, though I'll lay some amount of blame on myself there, I'm sure I had many opportunities to do things better.

One other piece is the fact that to some degree I'm still fighting my "programming". I'm almost 40, and still have to have people remind me that my family's behavior is not normal, not OK, and not my fault. They stomp on any boundary they can and I'm the one who feels guilty about it.

GaGrl, your first two suggested priorities are pretty dead on. I'd say the last one is "You must respect us as an independent family unit, and accept the frequency in which we see you". I keep trying to answer your last questions, but keep finding myself typing long excuses about how their violations are usually subversive, underhanded, explained away, etc. Not far from what I said above to FF. In the end, I'd see a perfect world as one where we can make our own choices and not worry about what they are going to think or do about them.

Notwendy, I can't discount the possibility that our daughter was feeding off us. That said, we've probably been more "off" since all this has happened (albeit in a different way), so there's still probably negativity to feed from. She didn't see my mom a lot (we had dropped to a point of maybe seeing them every 3 months on average), but the coddling/enabling/etc. that happened during those times went a long way. But in the end I really don't know if they were related or not.

I think our aim here isn't to tell you to go NC or LC- that's your choice

It's funny you say that. While I know that's nothing anyone here can decide for me, I've told my wife before that it would be an immense relief of the Lord Himself told me (in context of NC) "I know this is hard, but it is what you have to do". That would change everything. There would still be some sad, but I wouldn't be killing myself with grief and questioning. I would finally have a point of reference on my compass. However such fantasies aren't healthy thought exercises, so, moving on...

TelHill, I really appreciate your help and concern. And those are interesting questions about enablers. In my sisters case, we're realizing more and more how completely she is adopting my mom's image. She took my mom's FOG toolkit and uses it at an expert level. And I'm sure she doesn't know she is doing it. Everything that happens to her (just like my mom) is someone else's fault, and she really is the victim in her own mind, and she's doing what's good and right.

I'm sorry to hear about your SIL. I can definitely understand though; my wife and I know first hand how much of a strain these things are on a marriage.. I'm grateful my wife stuck with me.  Me finally standing up to my parents was a huge turning point for us.

zachira, I may be completely missing the point of your post, but it really resonated with me. Based on what I see reflected back at me when confiding in friends about this stuff, I feel like there is this outsider impression of "why doesn't he just walk away?" Or, "Why doesn't he just do "x"?" It's really frustrating for me. And if I'm being honest with myself, I don't think any "desire" I have for reconciliation has anything to do with a desire to have them back in my life. Sure, there are pieces I miss of the good. And sometimes I think about messaging one of them before remembering the situation. And then there's my nephews and new niece. But honestly, reconnecting with them scares me. And despite all talk of taking control, putting things on my terms, etc., I feel like I'd be putting a yoke back on that I've been happy to have off. So a reasonable person might ask why I would want that. If I'm honest, I think the answer has less to do with wanting them in my life and more to do with easing the guilt. To fix things for them and make them happy, so I can feel better. Kinda like a codependent.


So my sister emailed me again today, to a combination of email addresses from a combination of email addresses. The title said "This is it". I refused to read it. My wife read the message and told me I don't need to. It was complete guilt trip, telling me how we are hurting her and my family and all the mental and physical damage we are doing with NC. The way my wife put it, it was "Me, Me, Me!". Here's what's messed up about that... I feel guilty now, and I didn't even read it! It triggered my programming. I've spent all my life being given the burden of my family's health and happiness, not knowing any different. And that email triggered me to "action" to pick up that burden. So now I feel guilty, and thanks to my awarenesses I also feel angry. It both makes me want to reach out (for their benefit not mine) and reminds me why I'm not.

Maybe that's why I come across so inconsistently... just more of the battle between my programming and my attempt at logic. Part of me wants to respond to my sister with "THIS! This right here is why I'm not communicating with you! I refuse to bear the responsibility of your health and happiness anymore!". But she wouldn't get it. Like my wife said earlier, she'd get so much farther with a simple "What can I do to make this right?" So for the moment I'm choosing not to respond.

As I'm writing, I'm realizing I whine/cathart/ramble/etc. on here way more than I do in the real world. When this stuff happens I may mention it to a friend or two, or have the occasional confiding with someone, but for the most part I keep it to myself. I try to stay strong for my family so I try to keep it in the bottle (unhealthy, I know). Then I get on here and ramble like a crazy person. All that to say, once again, I really appreciate everyone here, both with the awesome insights and for the patience as I ramble!
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Harri
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2020, 11:01:19 PM »

Hi.

Each time I read through your posts I am struck by just how much other people have an influence on you and your own peace of mind.  Your parents, your sister, your friends, even your wife (not saying anything wrong with the latter though).  Then I wonder how do we help you to get past thinking and worrying so much about what others are thinking and saying about you, even your family.  I don't have the answer unfortunately.  I struggled with the same thing for a while and I am not exactly sure what changed for me and even if I could articulate it, I am not sure it would work for you as each case is different right?  I do know that understanding projection helped me.  I also know that I understood on a deep level that I needed to self-differentiate as that was my path too freedom for years of abuse and degradation.  It hurt to know others saw me as evil and disordered, wrong, etc.  It hurt very much.  I also knew that I had survived worse and that it was something I was going to have to deal with somehow.  Beyond that, I am not sure how things fell into place for me, I just knew I took every opportunity to learn and move through.

Another thing I notice is your expectations for your parents and sister to see, understand and own what they are doing to drive you away.  Then I ask myself how we can help you accept that those expectations are not reasonable.  It will not happen.  Again, I do not have the answer.  I wish I did.  This is not something I struggled with and I feel almost guilty that I did not have to struggle in this aspect of my relationship with my family.  Almost as if I lose street cred by not struggling as much in that area.  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)  Learning about the disorder, pushing myself, knowing that feelings will catch up with my actions and a crazy hope that I could and would heal and at the very least improve things for me was what pushed me on.  The question is, what would work for you?  I don't know.

I do think what you are doing needs to be tweaked a bit at least in terms of acceptance and self-differentation.  Change your thought patterns.  Every time you catch yourself worrying about what your parents are saying about you, ask yourself a series of questions that will help you break down the patterns and conditioning.  Every. Time.  It is a start.  Notice if your thoughts are reasonable.  Ask yourself what you would think or say if it were a friend coming to you.  Hell, ask yourself what Harri, or any one of us here would say to you. 

Excerpt
If I'm honest, I think the answer has less to do with wanting them in my life and more to do with easing the guilt. To fix things for them and make them happy, so I can feel better. Kinda like a codependent.
Kind of?!  Smiling (click to insert in post)  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)  This I understand.  I had a need to fix so I could control and feel better about me but also so I could feel safe.  Co-dependency is pretty complex.  Lot's of us have problems with it.

Excerpt
Maybe that's why I come across so inconsistently... just more of the battle between my programming and my attempt at logic. Part of me wants to respond to my sister with "THIS! This right here is why I'm not communicating with you! I refuse to bear the responsibility of your health and happiness anymore!". But she wouldn't get it. Like my wife said earlier, she'd get so much farther with a simple "What can I do to make this right?" So for the moment I'm choosing not to respond.
Why not say "this is why, this is what i am talking about"?  For that matter, why not read the email yourself?  It sounds like you had the same reaction you would have had had you read it, right?  Why not put it aside and read it at a better time of day and then work through breaking your programming and learning new ways to think and process?

I have no idea if any of this is helpful or now.  I do know that I see you struggling and trying so hard to change things and I admire your determination. 

How can we help you?
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2020, 06:59:12 AM »


Listen, I provided "details" on what LC might look like...not as a way to tell you what to do, but as a way of giving you one example with details enough so you could work through it in your mind and examine the underlying "strategy" that I used to create the details.

Harri has noticed the "strategic" (big picture) thing that I believe has to change.  There is an enormous amount of thought and analysis about others and minimal amount about you.  Even when it's about you...it's about your guilt (perhaps not the best word...but struggling to find another) at "your" impact on others.

So, for the sake of this discussion, is it fair to say you are "overly" others (externally) focused?  (again..hoping others have better words). 

Let's take this down to a more detailed level.  In the past you have met them halfway and had a bite to eat.  It appears to me the meeting "went fine" and then when you left you start analyzing and thinking (about others and what they said) and start realizing that perhaps they were being dysfunctional in subtle ways. 

I like using the word axiom.  (a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true.)

1.  They will be dysfunctional.
2.  They will not see the light (or in anyway "get it")
3.  They will not change.
4.   You can change.

OK, with those axioms in place, what would the drive home have been like if the discussion was about the wonderful fish thing you had rather than running conversations through a "filter" to look for slights and hidden (or overt) dysfunctional meanings.

Here is the thing....is it likely you will ever understand those "digs" in the way they want you to understand them?  Seriously...answer that? 

So...why spend time on that?

You have the choice of where you "spend" your brain power.

Last (for now).  Please don't "hear" a message that this is "your fault".  Please do hear a message that you are responsible for where you spend your mental energy.

Is this helpful to you?

Best,

FF

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« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2020, 10:10:46 AM »

Each time I read through your posts I am struck by just how much other people have an influence on you and your own peace of mind.  

Yeah, that's an infuriating trait of mine that drives me insane. Ironically I tend to live in my head, and have a near non-stop and exhausting train of thought. Also ironically, I'm a quite stubborn person who generally hates being told what to do. At risk of doing exactly what my FOO does and blaming others, I've always guessed my upbringing has something to do with it, beyond the typical "side effects" of BPD/narcissism/codependency. My mom basically always told me what to think and how I was supposed to feel. And I got used to going along, since I was the good little perfect child (adults used to praise my "maturity" when I was young). I've always striven to do what is "right", and my faith has always been a big part of that. But, guess who that "intermediary" to what God wants from me was in my early years?

Anyway, you've talked to me about self differentiation to me before, and I agree it's something I need to continue wrestling with. I think the reason it's so hard for me is because I frankly don't trust myself. The past few years have rocked my world in how I view things. And while I still want to do what's "right" (as if there is such a thing in this context), it's not like I can use my faith to determine what that is. Heck, one Sunday a sermon can encourage me to stay the path, and the next week's sermon makes me feel like an a-hole for going NC.

So I try to rely on those on the outside... the ones who have a higher view of this maze I'm in. And ironically I fall right back into the "needing others" for my compass bearings. The past few years I've set the "priority" on my nuclear family, but even then each decision point gets so frustratingly gray.

Another thing I notice is your expectations for your parents and sister to see, understand and own what they are doing to drive you away.  Then I ask myself how we can help you accept that those expectations are not reasonable.  

I think I know the expectations aren't reasonable, which I think feeds into my decision to maintain NC. It just hurts. Your wording is accurate, and not far from what my wife also tells me. I need to accept that my expectations (or as I see them, longings) aren't reasonable.


I do think what you are doing needs to be tweaked a bit at least in terms of acceptance and self-differentation.  Change your thought patterns.  Every time you catch yourself worrying about what your parents are saying about you, ask yourself a series of questions that will help you break down the patterns and conditioning.  Every. Time.  It is a start.  Notice if your thoughts are reasonable.  Ask yourself what you would think or say if it were a friend coming to you.  Hell, ask yourself what Harri, or any one of us here would say to you.  

You're right, I need to do something like that. I think what bothers me more is their pain, their belief that their pain is my fault, and my mind's tendency to internalize that belief. However your suggestion still stands.

Why not say "this is why, this is what i am talking about"?  For that matter, why not read the email yourself?  It sounds like you had the same reaction you would have had had you read it, right?  Why not put it aside and read it at a better time of day and then work through breaking your programming and learning new ways to think and process?

I've considered it. I just don't know that I should. My wife is convinced it will devastate me. What little I know about it (and other emails) involves my sister telling me about all the pain and problems I've put my family through during these 8 months of NC. And blaming me for undermining her and her husband's efforts in seeking medical assistance in conceiving a child. These are things that my wife, my friends, and people on these boards would look at and say "that's nonsense, you can't be responsible for that and she is guilting you". And I'll believe that, but the idea that "She's right, it really IS my fault!" will fester inside me and add to my confusion and depression. I think at one point during all this I could have read the email and been OK. But I think right now I'm in a period of backsliding and am not strong enough to remove the emotion.

How can we help you?

You're doing it. I appreciate all the thoughtful advice, and the patience. I mean, I wish there was a golden bullet statement that could "fix me", but unfortunately there isn't!

Listen, I provided "details" on what LC might look like...not as a way to tell you what to do, but as a way of giving you one example with details enough so you could work through it in your mind and examine the underlying "strategy" that I used to create the details.

I get it. And promise I'm working on it. I'll admit, part of me wanted to think "Oh no! He's saying I need to move from NC to LC! I'm doing this wrong!" But that's just my mind doing what it loves to do for some infuriating reason. Anyway, I know you're just trying to help me reshape my thinking and I appreciate it.

Harri has noticed the "strategic" (big picture) thing that I believe has to change.  There is an enormous amount of thought and analysis about others and minimal amount about you.  Even when it's about you...it's about your guilt (perhaps not the best word...but struggling to find another) at "your" impact on others.

I think that's reflective of the fact that that's where my mind stays. I obsess and wallow over the things I'm doing wrong and am supposed to be feeling guilty over. Not sure why I talk so much about others in the process, whether it's to help me talk about process what's happening, or if I'm telling my story to fish for reminders that I don't have to feel guilty (if that's true, it's not a fact I'm proud of), or some combination of things.

So, for the sake of this discussion, is it fair to say you are "overly" others (externally) focused?  (again..hoping others have better words).  

Yes. I'm always worried about others' emotions. Other's feelings. And feel a need to fix their problems. I also tend to worry about what others think about me.

None of those things are healthy, I know  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

Let's take this down to a more detailed level.  In the past you have met them halfway and had a bite to eat.  It appears to me the meeting "went fine" and then when you left you start analyzing and thinking (about others and what they said) and start realizing that perhaps they were being dysfunctional in subtle ways.  

I like using the word axiom.  (a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true.)

1.  They will be dysfunctional.
2.  They will not see the light (or in anyway "get it")
3.  They will not change.
4.   You can change.

OK, with those axioms in place, what would the drive home have been like if the discussion was about the wonderful fish thing you had rather than running conversations through a "filter" to look for slights and hidden (or overt) dysfunctional meanings.

Here is the thing....is it likely you will ever understand those "digs" in the way they want you to understand them?  Seriously...answer that?  
You know, I've always assumed I've understood the digs exactly the way they want me too... because I've always seen the digs not as ways to make me "feel bad", but as my mom's passive aggressive methods of communicating to me that I'm not doing things the way she wants me to. And when things bubble over and she dis-regulates, everything that comes out confirms it.

Is it possible I'm wrong, and I'm not understanding the "digs" the way that want me to? Entirely.

For context, here's a specific example of a dig... Back before NC, we let our daughter stay with my parents for a weekend. We met them halfway to get her back, and met for dinner at a fast food place. (Side note, this is the last time she ever stayed with them alone due to their ganging up and becoming argumentative when we asked them not to do something again that they did with our daughter.) During the meal, my mom kept talking about how they never went more than 3 weeks without taking me to see my grandparents when I was young. When we left, it stuck with me. I wasn't consciously analyzing the conversation, but it was sitting and stewing. I was getting increasingly angry and guilty. We had literally just let our daughter stay with them. And she was telling me it wasn't enough. And her guilt was activating my shock collar. But I was now aware of this, so I was dealing with the combination of anger and guilt. And it made me want to get far away from her.

So in that example, I get that she says what she says. And I get that it's up to me to think what I think and feel what I feel. So why is it so freaking hard to just ignore and not hurt?


Last (for now).  Please don't "hear" a message that this is "your fault".  Please do hear a message that you are responsible for where you spend your mental energy.

Is this helpful to you?

Best,

FF

It is helpful. I appreciate your help, and really am trying to take the reins to my own self.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 10:19:22 AM by ProudDad12 » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2020, 11:34:19 AM »

Ironically I tend to live in my head, and have a near non-stop and exhausting train of thought


We have a term for this in my ACA and co-dependency groups. Some of us call it "squirrels chattering in our minds" which seems appropriate. We do tend to "live in our heads" and also self isolate, which actually seems adaptive at the moment. I didn't recognize this as an aspect of co-dependency but it is.

When the squirrels get chattering, we are instructed to call our sponsor and/or someone else in the group. That's the hardest thing to do- as we all think we are bothering someone. But a good sponsor or seasoned member knows how to get you to refocus.

I think we also tend to resist the term "co-dependent" most of us are very independent and self reliant. It doesn't mean the same as dependent. It means we are so focused on what other people think and feel, that it has an excess influence on us. One description is " we become reactors rather than actors". Even if we are independent, the tail is wagging the dog. We need to gain our self direction back.

I couldn't see it at first either. I left home at an early age, supported myself but someone it seemed I was taking care of everyone else but me. That was a normal thing to do when my kids were younger, but I was emotionally caretaking my parents and also my husband and it took a toll emotionally.

It was a counselor who told me to go to 12 step meetings. I resisted this too. I don't drink - nobody in my household drinks except for the occasional beer or glass of wine. So what was the point of sitting in a group of alcoholics or spouses of them? But I soon realized that co-dependency to anything fits the addiction model and also the dynamics in an alcoholic family are similar to a family with BPD.

I didn't set out to be co-dependent- I was raised to be. Our job was to emotionally caretake and serve the needs of BPD mom. This was our normal . We don't always recognize our own dysfunctional family patterns because they seem normal. Your wife may see this and not you, because it isn't her normal.

I think it is great that you post here. At this point any CODA or ACA groups are probably online. But sometimes you have to deal with the squirrel chatter, and we can also help you by giving you feedback on that.

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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2020, 11:58:45 AM »


 I wasn't consciously analyzing the conversation, but it was sitting and stewing. I was getting increasingly angry and guilty. We had literally just let our daughter stay with them. And she was telling me it wasn't enough. And her guilt was activating my shock collar. 


Is it possible that "this" is what she was telling you.  Yes...it is possible. 

Is it "likely"?  I don't think so.

I think it's more likely that a visit with her granddaughter brought up memories of your childhood (which may or may not be accurate) and those memories spilled out. 

If I was advising your Mom, would I advise her to be more careful with her words...of course I would.  Especially if her goal was to see grandkids more.  If you want something..ask for it explicitly.

Back to you.

If you are going to put the mental investment of time, energy and emotions into believing that your Mom's words mean something other than what they plainly mean.....you really owe it to everyone to seek clarification first.

Time and time again my PhD level psychologist used to exhort me to see the most parsimonious explanation for words and actions and "stay there" unless proven otherwise.


par·si·mo·ni·ous
/ˌpärsəˈmōnēəs/
Learn to pronounce
adjective
unwilling to spend money or use resources; stingy or frugal.


I can't control the words of others, but I can control how I interpret them (since I'm half of the communication process).

I think there is a lot for you to "think about" down this path.



Best,

FF
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« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2020, 04:09:30 PM »

Hi PD.  

So what can you do differently?  Healing, changing the patterns and automatic responses to how we were raised requires active participation in the process.  Reading is good.  So is prayer and faith. Action is what will get things moving in the right direction.  Healing is not a passive process where you can read an article and understand it and change.  (I know you know that).  You know it is different to know something intellectually vs. something emotionally.  How do you connect the two?

So, what steps can you take on your own to make small changes that end in success?  How can you then build on those successes?  Asking others for input is good.  One thing though is that those in your life that you are asking are not exactly outside of the situation.   The responses from them focus on your FOO and your friends opinions of their actions.  BUT (!) this is not about your FOO.  This is about you.  How you react.  Your part in the dysfunctional dynamic.  It is about what you are doing that perpetuates the dysfunction and that keeps you tied to it all.   It is hard for us on PSI to accept sometimes, but we do play a role in this mess.  

We are now adults.  We are not the powerless children we used to be. We no longer have to acquiesce.  We do need to recognize the damage and abuse that happened and is still going on AND we need to stop giving our power away.  I think a few of us have talked with you about that before.  I know Skip and I did, I think Notwendy did and now Formflier.

So what steps can you take right now today?  I think a place to start might be to change the words you use to describe your situation.  For one thing, take a look at the title of this thread.  You are giving away your power.  Can you see that?   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2020, 05:33:18 PM »

There is tons of really great stuff here on this thread, helpful to you, but also to the rest of us.

Excerpt
During the meal, my mom kept talking about how they never went more than 3 weeks without taking me to see my grandparents when I was young. When we left, it stuck with me. I wasn't consciously analyzing the conversation, but it was sitting and stewing. I was getting increasingly angry and guilty. We had literally just let our daughter stay with them. And she was telling me it wasn't enough.

Gosh, I feel for you here, cs I get this kind of  Cursing - won't cause site restrictions at Starbucks (click to insert in post) from my mom all the time too.  In my case, she's always giving me examples of how some child of one of her best friends is doing such a great job of caring for their elderly parent.  The message to me being: "you don't take care of me the way other people take take of their parent, therefore you don't love me".  She never needs to say it.  I just know it, because I was raised by her.  It used to drive me crazy, and it sounds like your parents are driving you super-crazy.  For years she harassed H and I to move her in with us into our home.  

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how exactly I got through what you are describing.

I think someone told me it was ok to stop feeling my mother's feelings for her.  That helped a LOT, because until I heard that, I didn't even know that was what I was doing.  I thought her and I just shared the same feelings, but I had never considered that I was feeling her feelings, and not acknowledging my own.

When you start "getting increasingly angry and guilty", are you aware that is what is happening in that moment?  Or do you realize it afterwards?

A CBT workbook that I'm going through mostly on my own has really helped me identify this kind of emotional reaction in the moment, recognize my physical reactions (increased heartbeat, sweating etc), and retrain my brain to think and react differently.  In short, it has taught me to recognize "hot thoughts", and develop new healthier ways of thinking, and strategies to cope.

I just poke away at it very slowly, at my own pace, because honestly it takes time to process some of that stuff, and put it into practice, plus, life is busy right?  If you're interested, I can share the title with you.  I'm working through it on my own.  I only thought of it here for you, when I read your sentence: "I was getting increasingly angry and guilty".  That sounded like me about a year ago.  I still have reactions, but they're not as intense as they used to be, and I can come down from them quickly, and manage them a lot better now.

I also related to this:

Excerpt
We had literally just let our daughter stay with them.And she was telling me it wasn't enough.

This made me laugh.  So it's never going to be enough, right?  Once I fully accepted that, and stopped trying to meet her "needs" the way I was interpreting she was telling me I needed to meet them  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post), and started looking after myself and my own life, the squirrels in my head (love that expression) very slowly started getting quieter.  So two days ago, I did a bunch of running around and shopping for her due to Covid-19 (she's 83).  She was happy with everything as she was pulling it out of the bag, but when she got to the rice noodles, she said "I wish I had these 5 minutes ago!".  Like you said, it's never good enough.  So my muscles tightened up when she said that, my heart beat a little faster, and my fists clenched, but then I took a breath to slow it all down, and humorously joked her "well you knew I was going shopping, so you could have waited to cook your soup Smiling (click to insert in post)".  She acknowledged.  She never thanked me for the groceries and other errands.  She never does.  I've let go of that expectation too, so it doesn't bother me much anymore.

Maybe an awareness of your own over-interpreting, and over-thinking would give you an opportunity to push the "pause" button, and stop the squirrel chatter, and live a more peaceful (less conflict driven) life?   What do you think?

Again, I can't really identify one single thing that got me through my journey because it was a whole bunch of things.  But acknowledging my own emotional reactions to my uBPD mother's behaviors and how those reactions fed her drama, was a big step for me.  Sounds like you could have emotional reaction happening too, because your parents are pushing your buttons and you have been "trained" to react.  If you can find a coping strategy that works for you to redirect all that negative energy and frustration into positive energy and productivity at work or with your family, you may start to feel better.

LC or NC, you will get there Proud Dad. Virtual hug (click to insert in post)



« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 05:40:03 PM by Methuen » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2020, 10:21:56 AM »

This thread is a meat and potatoes kind of thread, wow.
I wish I had the kind of time to respond in the ways I see others doing so....but if I’m not looking at my child she is usually screeching for my attention, LOL. And with my husband working from home my full-time job is keeping her volume at a reasonable level.

Anyway PD, I’ve gotten a lot out of your ability to thoroughly analyze why you do the things you do and think the way you do. I understand much of it, as I think a lot of us on the parent/sibling in law board do. Commonalities abound in the flawed cognitions we as children learn from our BPD parents.

Anyway wish I could say more.
Gotta go.
Keep it all up. Hugs.
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2020, 10:32:36 AM »

I've been following several threads and thinking a lot about "voice." We each need to own our voice and feel able to express our wants and needs - - not having been allowed to do so is perhaps the ultimate invalidation.

PD, can you think about your Voice as a husband, father and son? How would you express yourself in those roles? Does it help to ground yourself in Husband and Father when speaking as Son?
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« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2020, 10:41:34 PM »

I didn't set out to be co-dependent- I was raised to be. Our job was to emotionally caretake and serve the needs of BPD mom. This was our normal . We don't always recognize our own dysfunctional family patterns because they seem normal. Your wife may see this and not you, because it isn't her normal.

That makes a lot of sense. I think in my case it may have been less caretaking (at least literally) and more emotional anchor (or buoy?) for happiness and meeting this image of a desired "perfect" family life. And it really was my normal.

Also a good point about a "sponsor". It occurs to me that I may actually have someone doing that for me. One of my two best friends from childhood also happens to be my wife's cousin (though I didn't meet my wife till my 20's), and his wife went through extreme BPD issues with her mom. I had no idea until last year when they filled us in. Anyway, he's taken it upon himself to call and check in on me fairly often, and encourages me to talk to him to get "grounded" when I start mentally spiraling. It helps because they are among the only people we know in person who "get it".

I think there is a lot for you to "think about" down this path.

I can't really argue with that or your other observations. In fact part of me is trying to think "Oh crap, I have messed up and this NC is a result of machinations in my head!" I have to remind myself there is way more to our story than the undercurrents during the "peace" times. For what it's with though, when things have boiled over to them going crazy at us, pretty much everything we were "feeling" during those times gets verbalized at us. I mean, aside from little things like waking up to a 5:30 am text from my dad telling me my wife and I are trying to ruin my mom's "special bond" with my daughter (another example from the "peace" times).

In any event, my wife read your post and said "Yep, I tell you the exact thing all the time. Listen to my words, not what you think I'm saying!". So, yeah you've hit on something. I think it just goes with the territory of coming from a family who rarely says what they mean, for the sake of image or whatever. I've spent a lifetime reading between the lines because that's the language I know.

We are now adults.  We are not the powerless children we used to be. We no longer have to acquiesce.  We do need to recognize the damage and abuse that happened and is still going on AND we need to stop giving our power away.  I think a few of us have talked with you about that before.  I know Skip and I did, I think Notwendy did and now Formflier.

So what steps can you take right now today?  I think a place to start might be to change the words you use to describe your situation.  For one thing, take a look at the title of this thread.  You are giving away your power.  Can you see that?   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Yes. And I'm honestly not trying to give it away willingly! It's just that in some events/situations/timings/etc. my guilt strings are easier to trigger. Like I'll be sitting, doing something completely unrelated, and suddenly think about how I'm "hurting my baby sister", despite her being an adult now, and I conveniently forget how she's excelled at her flying monkey duties and played her part in our situation. I guess what I'm saying is my easily triggered guilt (justified or not), combined with my overactive empathy and imagination, is the backdoor to controlling me. I really do want to stop giving them power though.

For what it's worth, when I started this thread it was because I was at a point where numerous people were telling me to take action with authorities (HR, police, lawyer, etc.), as it was one of my last ways to stop things. I was struggling to process that (still am, really). I just couldn't see any other action working, because anything we say to my family short of giving in just seems to ramp them up, or at best delay them. So I was trying to process what my options are to take control given my family's refusal to let us go.

I think someone told me it was ok to stop feeling my mother's feelings for her.  That helped a LOT, because until I heard that, I didn't even know that was what I was doing.  I thought her and I just shared the same feelings, but I had never considered that I was feeling her feelings, and not acknowledging my own.

I think someone has said that to me here before, and it is excellent advice. Thanks for the reminder!

When you start "getting increasingly angry and guilty", are you aware that is what is happening in that moment?  Or do you realize it afterwards?

Usually, I would recognize it in the moment, but wouldn't say anything for fear of triggering a conflict. So I'd try to ignore it, but it would sit and simmer, and later more pieces of the conversation would be remembered and fall in with it.

Maybe an awareness of your own over-interpreting, and over-thinking would give you an opportunity to push the "pause" button, and stop the squirrel chatter, and live a more peaceful (less conflict driven) life?   What do you think?

You'd think it would, but my mind is stubborn and loves to self sabotage. Usually the only solution for me is a good distraction or diversion.

In any event, it sounds like our moms might be related! I'm encouraged to know you made it to the other end of this stuff.

I wish I had the kind of time to respond in the ways I see others doing so....but if I’m not looking at my child she is usually screeching for my attention, LOL. And with my husband working from home my full-time job is keeping her volume at a reasonable level.

I know what you mean... I've had trouble keep up with my own ramblings much less making a meaningful response for others. My wife and I are both trying to telecommute while we have a 7y/o with school lessons and a toddler who thinks he's a T-Rex running around! By the time we settle down for the night I barely have time to post anything. I'm always impressed with the consistent and thorough help that's given on here.

Anyway PD, I’ve gotten a lot out of your ability to thoroughly analyze why you do the things you do and think the way you do. I understand much of it, as I think a lot of us on the parent/sibling in law board do. Commonalities abound in the flawed cognitions we as children learn from our BPD parents.

I think it's the engineer in me Laugh out loud (click to insert in post), I overanalyze everything! In any event, hearing and recognizing the commonalities you mentioned have been a huge help to me. I felt alone and crazy for so long...

I've been following several threads and thinking a lot about "voice." We each need to own our voice and feel able to express our wants and needs - - not having been allowed to do so is perhaps the ultimate invalidation.

PD, can you think about your Voice as a husband, father and son? How would you express yourself in those roles? Does it help to ground yourself in Husband and Father when speaking as Son?

That is a very interesting question. I actually tried running with it in detail and got a bit far in the weeds analyzing the roles, and got way to wordy and hokey. So I deleted it and am trying again.

But what I observed is this... I feel pretty firm in the husband and father roles. But I feel scared and like a failure in the son role, as my biggest motivation in that role is to please my parents and siblings, and to keep them happy. That's the voice that feels the guilt, and doesn't want to play nice with the other two roles. It's the one that analyzed every decision through the filter of "what will my parents think?" And I'm embarrassed to say, it was given way too much priority alongside the husband role for a long time.

Any "standing up" to my parents I do now happens strictly from the husband or father voice, usually due to a perceived threat to mental or emotional well being. So yeah, I think I have to ground myself in those roles. Ideally, I'd like to reshape the son role into something more consistent with a normal, mentally and emotionally healthy adult child, but I haven't figured out how to do that in a way that meshes well with my FOO (hence the difficult choices I've been making). So these days I try to suppress the son voice, and/or reshape it even if it's incompatible with my family.

I feel like I've rambled off base into something that doesn't make sense...
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« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2020, 12:18:32 AM »

I think a number of caring supporters have given you a lot to think about.

Let it settle, let it incubate, don't force it...
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« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2020, 09:37:36 AM »

I agree with GaGrl,

Lots of stuff here to let settle.  Stay with a point/issue/conversation and examine it...thoroughly.

My hope for you is that you and your wife can find a new way to "see" or "look at" issues and that this new vision will lead to better approaches for your family.

For instance, I agree you haven't been making a conscious decision to give away "power".  I would also hope you realize that deciding to NOT give away power is still an "unhelpful" way to look at it.

What if you made a decision to "take back" power and "protect" power?

Do those two ways of looking seem like "nuance" differences to you or do you see a massive difference between them?

I'm so pleased this seems to be resulting in discussions with your wife.  Coming together as a couple to lead your family will pay MASSIVE dividends!!!

Best,

FF
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« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2020, 06:43:10 PM »

Hi again.

Excerpt
That makes a lot of sense. I think in my case it may have been less caretaking (at least literally) and more emotional anchor (or buoy?) for happiness and meeting this image of a desired "perfect" family life. And it really was my normal.
If you haven't, read about covert incest.  Care taking also includes being an emotional anchor and is a huge part of covert incest.  If you have read it, read it again.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
Was Part of Your Childhood Deprived by Emotional Incest?

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Yes. And I'm honestly not trying to give it away willingly! It's just that in some events/situations/timings/etc. my guilt strings are easier to trigger. Like I'll be sitting, doing something completely unrelated, and suddenly think about how I'm "hurting my baby sister", despite her being an adult now, and I conveniently forget how she's excelled at her flying monkey duties and played her part in our situation. I guess what I'm saying is my easily triggered guilt (justified or not), combined with my overactive empathy and imagination, is the backdoor to controlling me. I really do want to stop giving them power though.
I am going to push you here a bit.  We all have guilt strings.  We can all choose not to let them rule how we respond.  It will be hard.  It will feel awful.  You may feel like you are being torn apart.  Think of a behavior that was so ingrained in you that you tried to change and how difficult it was.  Now add on the emotional enmeshment and the belief that your survival depends on you responding in a certain way when those guilt strings are pulled and you can see how it is exponentially more difficult to not react.  Do it anyway.  

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For what it's worth, when I started this thread it was because I was at a point where numerous people were telling me to take action with authorities (HR, police, lawyer, etc.), as it was one of my last ways to stop things. I was struggling to process that (still am, really). I just couldn't see any other action working, because anything we say to my family short of giving in just seems to ramp them up, or at best delay them. So I was trying to process what my options are to take control given my family's refusal to let us go.
Lets talk about this for a bit.  I know your T told you to call the police and she is more knowledgeable than I am.  I will be honest and say that I do not see this as the best option.  It should be, IMO, a last resort.  Same with a restraining order.  Measures like these escalate more often than not and do nothing in terms of you learning to be more centered emotionally and taking back your power.  And when I say taking back your power, part of that means seeing your own role in the conflict, and owning that as well as recognizing that you are an adult, your childhood is not the present and you are an autonomous adult who can make changes.

I mention the above because while you continue to say you are NC, you continue to take phone calls, emails, texts, etc.  That is more limited contact.  I don't care which you go with as long as you understand what each entail and have appropriate expectations.  No Contact is a tool for you.  It is not a boundary you can enforce by controlling other peoples reactions.  It is not something that your parents are violating, it is something you are violating.  I said that very directly and I mean no harm.  I say it out of understanding, sympathy and compassion though it may not feel that way right now.

Take a look at your response to me in this thread.  I have seen you do the same elsewhere.  To me it all reads as explaining why you react the way you do.  That is fine and even good.  But(!) when are you going to say "I understand why I do this, I need to change this and I need to start this now so I am going to ____"?  I challenged you to figure out what you can do differently.  Instead you explained yourself to me.  You do not need to explain yourself to me.  You do not need to justify yourself.

Stop giving your power away.  You are strong and smart and full of compassion and are really driven to do the right thing.  All of those things help make you the powerful man you are.  Stop giving yopur power away.

I used to spend a lot of time here posting about how i was scared or how hard it was to fight things through and how hard it was to admit that I was a victim.  I think it was 3 years before I could actually say it and even then I flinched (still don't like it but I can say it and write the word).  So believe me, I am not judging you here.  I get it.  I have plenty of other examples if you want to hear about them.

Explaining, defending, justifying are all things we learned to do and are behaviors that are hard to change.  What happened that I changed and allowed me to use the word victim when describing myself?  One day I realized that I kept explaining (defending, rationalizing, justifying, keeping myself in the role of victim <shudder!>) rather than taking action.  Rather than just saying "Suck it up Harri (yes, I talk this way to myself all the time.  Use a style that works for you) it is going to be hard but you need to do this and you will get through this and stop explaining and justifying yourself.  And then i forced myself to use the word.  I even forced myself to say it out loud.  This took time but it worked.  Change your behaviors and your feelings will follow (<--- principle of CBT)

Eventually I came to realize that all the explaining, justifying, etc was a defense that was quite effective at keeping me stuck because I was afraid of what the changes would mean in terms of emotional consequence to me and to other people.  Self- sabotage.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 06:49:11 PM by Harri » Logged


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Harri
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« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2020, 05:13:57 PM »

Staff only

This thread reached the post limit and has been split and locked.  Part 3 is located here: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=343783.msg13105062#msg13105062

Thank you.
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