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Skills we were never taught
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Author Topic: Recent Estrangement From My BPD Daughter  (Read 1119 times)
msleah

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« on: July 28, 2020, 03:25:02 AM »

I'm feeling a good deal of despair because my 24 year old daughter has decided to cut my husband and me out of her life. She has BPD and has decided recently that I am to blame for it. Actually, she most likely has felt that way for a while but never articulated it so plainly before. I've never understood why, because, though I am far from a perfect parent, I never thought of myself as abusive. I've had my moments of anger, but I never hit my daughter (or my son, with whom I get along fine) and I was usually careful about my words, as well.

Her father and I split up a long time ago. He dislikes me intensely and has made this clear to my daughter for years. He's a recovering alcoholic and an extremely angry person. I've tried to make peace with him over the years, but he refuses to talk to me. I can't help but feel that he shares at least some of the blame for our daughter's problems.

My current husband and I have been together 18 years. He basically raised our daughter. He is a good and loving man, and she has no issues with him. Still, she cut him off as well. Collateral damage, I guess, since he's married to me. It's awful, because he has stage 4 cancer, and she knows how ill he is. Though he's doing surprisingly well, his time on earth is uncertain.

Why do BPD people seem so damn self-centered? I feel as though my daughter chose the worst possible time to make her exit. My husband and I recently moved 1500 miles away to a warmer climate, and the estrangement began a couple of months later. I'm afraid we might never see or speak to her again. She has blocked us on social media. We have both sent regular emails that have gone unanswered. It's like a living hell for us.

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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2020, 10:36:35 AM »


Welcome

I'm so sorry about the estrangement. 

I'm curious about what your daughter had to say about you guys moving.

Is she still in contact with her brother?

Best,

FF
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msleah

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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2020, 12:45:28 PM »

Hello:

I'm just learning how to navigate this site. It's a bit confusing. I saw a response to my post, including a couple of questions, when I checked this site on my phone. Now, on my laptop, I can't see the response. I'm going to answer the questions that person asked, anyway, in the hope that they'll see it.

My son and daughter have been in contact since the estrangement. I told my son about my daughter's decision to cut me off, and he seemed confused by it.

Since then, the two of them have been in touch via instant message. He lives far away, in Europe. Neither of them mentioned the estrangement to each other.

When my husband and I moved away, my daughter seemed very unemotional about our departure. For a BPD person, she's rather adept at appearing calm and unconcerned when it suits her. We saw her right before we left for our new home in the Southwest. It was during the beginning of the pandemic and we had to stand 6 feet apart outdoors. She seemed like she was in a hurry to get away from us.

She told me during our last instant message conversation that I have constant meltdowns, have only spoken to her harshly during her whole life, and that she was deleting me from her life. Of course, she's the one who has meltdowns, but she doesn't seem to know that.

The whole thing just seems hopeless.


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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2020, 08:32:09 AM »


 I am so sorry you are going through this. My 31 year old daughter just cut me off. It's heartbreaking. I have read that even though she has cut us off, we don't have to cut her off. Think about it. Isn't the biggest fear of someone with BPD abandonment? That's why I'm going to keep reaching out to my daughter. She lives on the west coast and I am on the east. I'm going to send her funny cards and texts. I actually feel like the cut off is a test to see / prove how much i love  her.

I'm wondering if you are at all relieved? The conversations with my daughter are EXHAUSTING to say the least and I'm thankful for the break in communication.

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msleah

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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2020, 08:50:53 PM »

I think I'm starting to get the hang of using this site.

I've heard mixed thoughts and opinions about the wisdom of continuing to contact an estranged child. I'm afraid of upsetting her further, not giving her the space she claims she needs.

Today I re-read our final instant message conversation, from last month, though it was quite painful for me. She was adamant that I needed to apologize right then and there for my transgressions as a parent, or she would cut me off, delete me on social media, etc. I was angry and flummoxed and did not apologize. When she accused me of having constant meltdowns, I reminded her of her numerous instances of borderline rage. We're talking Carrie-style tantrums here. Her response? "You break people, Mom."

She doesn't have a phone number, as she communicates with the world entirely through instant message and text. Somehow, her cell is set up for internet service but not phone service.

That leaves email and snail mail as contact options. I can keep sending her emails, I suppose, but I feel awful when she doesn't answer. My husband sent her an email two days ago and received no reply. For someone who is so afraid of abandonment, she is doing a stellar job of distancing herself. Also, I suspect her counselor has applauded this move on her part.

I appreciate your feedback a lot, and hope you and your daughter can reconcile. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Estrangement from a child is bad enough. Estrangement from a BPD child is unbearably hard.
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msleah

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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2020, 09:14:17 PM »

I should clarify that my daughter communicates only via instant message, not text.

Also, I forgot to address your question. I'm not yet at the point of relief about her silence. I would love to feel that way, as it would offer me some solace.

I think that's it! Thanks again.
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« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2020, 09:13:05 AM »

I am so sorry for the estrangement of your relationship.  Also dealing with your husbands medical needs must be difficult.  Do you have anyone supporting you through this life change? Hospice or a support group?  Do you think that your daughter is having a difficult time dealing with your husbands medical condition and inevitable departure? 

Taking good care of ourselves is important.  Please take great care of yourself. 
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“Honesty is the first book of wisdom.”
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msleah

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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2020, 01:47:11 AM »

Thanks for your compassionate words, Breakwater Bill.

My husband and I are new to Arizona, and though we moved to a town where we do know a couple of people, we've done very little in-person socializing, due to the pandemic. The existence of covid-19 adds a level of difficulty that we wouldn't have to deal with during more normal times.

Fortunately, we're not in hospice territory at this point. A year after my husband's stage 4 diagnosis, his tumors have shrunk dramatically and he's still doing tai chi and taking 2 mile walks on a regular basis. I have to constantly tell him to walk a bit slower so I can keep up. Amazing! But of course, cancer can turn on a dime, and we're being quite vigilant. I'm still amazed (and angry) that our daughter chose this particular time to make her exit.

Yeah, she could well be doing the BPD thing--reject us out of fear of losing us, particularly my husband (her stepdad, who raised her since she was five). But she's not really angry with him, he is just collateral damage because she has decided to cut me off. She can't really talk to him but not me, so we both got excommunicated.

I think she's convinced I'm a toxic parent, which is a bitter pill to swallow. Her biological father (a recovering alcoholic and probable BPD person himself) gives her the silent treatment for weeks, but she always welcomes him back. Last year on her birthday, he threw her gifts in front of her door and stormed off because she forgot she was supposed to meet with him that day. Yet, somehow, I'm the awful one. Moms so often are held to a higher standard than dads.

I think my daughter's dad knows exactly how to manipulate her--reject her periodically so she doesn't have the chance to reject him first. Keep her off-balance and afraid he'll abandon her. I've never threatened to abandon my daughter, so I'm easier to manipulate than he is.

I'm far from perfect, and have made many mistakes of my own. But she won't allow me to apologize or make amends.

It really seems like an impossible situation.
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2020, 07:42:36 AM »


Does she talk in general terms about you being a bad parent or does she have specific things the tries to communicate?

I'm trying to get a feel or how those chat sessions go/went.

Best,

FF
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msleah

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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2020, 12:42:22 AM »

Hi formflier:

I have not heard from my daughter since our last IM conversation, a month and a half ago. At that time, she made it clear that she was deleting me from social media and cutting me off. Since then, crickets.

At the time, she was pretty specific about her complaints. She claimed I never think of how my behavior affects her (which is odd, because I often felt like I had to walk on eggshells around her. I guess this is a pretty typical fear amongst friends and relatives of BPD people). She said I had only talked to her like a "s@#*-eating child who needs a time out" (such an awful image), and that I have constant meltdowns. This completely blindsided me because she is the one who has meltdowns (AKA borderline rage). I pointed this out (probably unwisely) and her response was "you break people."

She demanded that I apologize on the spot for my behavior over the years and threatened to cut me off if I didn't. I was so freaked out by her anger that I refused to apologize. So the next thing I knew, I was blocked from her FB and Instagram, and that was the end of it.

That leaves regular email and snail mail as options. I have thought of getting in my car and driving 1500 miles to her doorstep or workplace, but I don't want to upset her even more. I never thought being a parent would end up like this.

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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2020, 07:41:08 AM »


Can I be so bold to suggest that during this "quiet time" that you focus on understanding the issues of communicating with a pwBPD?

Most likely these quiet times end for one reason or another and I would hope that you can have tools to help sooth inflamed emotions of a pwBPD.

What do you think?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2020, 01:11:53 PM »

Estrangement is hard on a parent's heart.  However the first thing to remember is our kids are adults( speaking for myself too).   If they feel they need space and time, we can't force ourselves on them.   They have to be respected.  Also, give your daughter a chance to miss you.  You can click on my name to see more of my backstory.  
 
Like what was stated before, I agree that the energy you would like to spend on your daughter, turn that energy and attention onto self care.  I am trying to utilize this window of opportunity to work on myself and some days that is impossible, admittedly.

I challenge you to be proud of the parent you are-   she is living independently of you.  This is huge.  
You refused to cowtow to her demands, setting a healthy boundary with her.  By the way, I have been there , with the son yelling for me to apologize for something.  I did , hoping to keep the peace .  It didn't work as  He then found another excuse to rant  and keep on doing what he was doing.  The cycle becomes never ending, so good for you to not play into that.  

I also challenge you to try not to take her blocking you personally.  It's a very BPD typical thing.  They have trouble navigating feelings , communication , relationships, etc. Their blocking us in arbitrary to us , but in their minds, they are right.  After making tentative contact with me  earlier this year, my son blocked me because I wouldn't send him $$ to subsidize his habit/ addiction.  Next thing you know I got a ranting  nonsensical, rambling text and I became blocked and deleted.  
Hang tough.    Look at it this way, she made her choice when you put a boundary in place.    You are doing the right thing by letting it be even though it feels strange and terrifying and grief-making-because it is all of that.  
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2020, 01:17:33 PM »

I forgot to mention but in addition, your husband is ill.  All the more reason to let your adult daughter be and you putting the focus into your own life.  Thank you for writing to us, this is a good first step.
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msleah

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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2020, 07:30:40 PM »

Formflier:

I have been reading everything I can about BPD people during the past few weeks, as you might imagine. I cognitively understand their deep need for validation, and I can certainly see how this trait manifests in my daughter.

However, it's really hard to keep my cool when she has a splitting episode, because the all-or-nothing thinking comes to the fore. She is very intelligent and knows how to go right for the jugular. She is also absolutely convinced that she's right (which is funny, because she characterizes me as being so stubborn--guess the apple didn't fall so far from the tree after all).

The last episode was, of course, the worst ever. Lots of "you never" and "you always" statements, delivered in a lofty way that made it seem like she's been thinking this way for a long while and finally came to a difficult but necessary decision.

I'll be doing lots of introspection during this time, as you can imagine. But she has been emotionally distant for years, so introspection, guilt, fear, and regret have been my companions for a while.

Thanks again for your insight.

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msleah

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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2020, 07:47:34 PM »

Swimmy55:

Thank you, as well. I'm going to try my best to be proud of my parenting job, but it feels like trying on an outfit that doesn't fit.

I'm so accustomed to feeling like I screwed up, like I could have done better, could have been more patient, emotionally present, helpful, etc. The idea of seeing myself as a good parent is a novel one, to say the least. I've read that BPD often stems from abuse and/or neglect in childhood, and I keep wracking my brain and beating myself up to ascertain what I did wrong.

Of course, her biological father wasn't much help. He's an extremely unhappy, angry, recovering alcoholic and chain-smoker, with lots of problems of his own. But I still can't pin all the blame on him. He moved out when she was five, and my daughter never really processed his departure. (though she spent a lot of time with him afterwards. I wanted to be fair, both to her and to him).

I feel like I should have been less fair, since the two of them think I was so unfair anyway. That sounds kinda irrational, I suppose, but it's frustrating to get so little credit.

I'd be doing more for myself if it weren't for the pandemic. My husband and I are together now 24-7, and most of the time we get along well. I have my writing (yes, I'm a writer) and I do yoga at home (no classes, I live in AZ). I am an extrovert and this isolation has been hard on me. If life ever gets back to "normal", I'll have a lot more outlets for self-care.

Thanks again for your help. I hope you and your son can get onto a more solid emotional footing. Parenting is exhausting under the best of circumstances, even when the "child" is an adult. An adult BPD child, even more so.



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« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2020, 07:55:54 PM »


So..one of the things I hope we can help you develop is empathy for your daughters point of view.

Typically it's not hard for a parent, yet when they insist on "alternate reality"...and "the facts" don't matter...it can get really tricky.

Keep reading and think how you can validate without agreeing...

We also need to talk about boundaries and how to gracefully exit conversations or try to redirect them.

This a marathon, not a sprint....and really your number 1 job is taking care of yourself...your hubby and then when opportunity arises...try to connect with your daughter on an emotional level.

Best,

FF
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msleah

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« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2020, 02:38:02 PM »

formflier:

Sounds good. But I do wonder how to be empathetic and open while I'm being attacked and told that I am a bad parent, bad person, and literally the reason for all of my daughter's problems. It seems like it would take the patience of a Zen master. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Meanwhile, it looks like I will have lots of time to ponder whatever input I receive. My daughter has been doing DBT therapy for a while, and I strongly suspect, from some of the psychoanalytical verbiage in her last IM conversation with me, that her counselor has at least hinted I'm the main problem. So the counselor is most likely proud of her for dissolving the relationship.

I've read a lot of posts on this forum from parents who are frustrated because many counselors still adhere to the idea that BPD is usually due to parental abuse and/or neglect. New research suggests there may more of a genetic predisposition than what was previously known. My daughter mentioned in her IM that BPD stems from parental abuse of a sensitive child.

Since the core of BPD is "splitting", the belief that someone is all good or all bad, I'd think a good counselor would ask my daughter if she could think of positive aspects of my personality and our relationship. But I'm not a counselor, and I wasn't in the room (or phone or Zoom session) when the sessions were happening, so I have no real way of knowing what went down.

I just know I'm up against a mighty thick wall.
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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2020, 06:04:26 PM »


Do you really think that a counselor that has never met you would suggest to their patient that someone else is the main problem?

Does that sound like something a counselor would say???

or

Does that sound like something someone would say that is uncomfortable looking at themselves?

Best,

FF
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msleah

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« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2020, 07:21:12 PM »

Well, as a person who has seen a variety of counselors in my life, I've had good ones, and others that were....not as good. They can be as opinionated as anyone else. Or they can be stellar. It's a mixed bag, I think, like any profession.

Looking at myself and trying to figure out what I did wrong and how I could've/should've done it better has (unfortunately) been a major theme in my life. I'm a memoir writer, specifically focused on family of origin experiences, so I'm not lacking in introspection. But this is a situation where I can't just introspect my way out of it. That's part of what makes it so confounding.

It's worth noting that my son's perception of me is entirely different from my daughter's. We get along well. I asked my daughter during that last conversation if she feels I parented the two of them differently, or showed him any favoritism, and she said no, she'd never even thought about it. When I mentioned the new estrangement to my son, he seemed surprised and said, "I don't think of you as a bad mother or a bad person. At all."

I honestly don't believe this is all my fault, though of course there are many things I could have done differently, or better.
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« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2020, 02:33:13 AM »

The other weird thing is that her recent behavior, and the ultimatum, as well as laying the blame for her BPD at my doorstep, all seem to be fairly recent developments. Today I scrolled backwards through a couple of years of our IMs. This took a while, as you might imagine.

Most of the IMs seemed pretty innocuous--the two of us making arrangements to get together so I could buy her dinner, her asking me for advice about a new boyfriend and a toxic roommate, me arranging to give her money so she could move into a new apartment, me giving her money to help her get back on her feet afterwards, me giving her money when she first lost her job after the pandemic, etc.

Her worst period was after the death of a close relative, a couple of years ago. I won't go into detail, but it was very traumatic for the whole family, especially my daughter. She initiated a couple of cutting incidents and a suicide attempt afterwards. I reached out to her many times, as I was incredibly worried for her. She assured me that I was not to blame for her BPD and that I had never been anything other than supportive. I told her I would always be there for her if she needed someone to listen.

So, I think she feels abandoned since my husband and I moved to AZ only a few months ago. And then there's the coronavirus, which is driving a lot of us bonkers. And....well, I do wonder about this new counselor she has now.

That's all for now, I promise.
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Swimmy55
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« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2020, 10:33:31 AM »

I recognize what you are doing because I have done it myself.  You are scouring through everything , leaving no stone unturned, for some clue of what caused this.  On a deeper level you could possibly be looking for something you have done to cause this.  Rest easy, Mother, you did not cause this. Scouring through gives us a sense of control.  I even do it now from time to time.  The thing is, we ( I am speaking for myself as well) have to accept the fact that this is something going on in their brains and we can't really know what is going on in their brains.  They themselves don't even know what is going on in their brains.  

I gently suggest - Please don't get into the twisty pretzel trap of trying to find the right thing you can say/ do to make her better and make this all go away.  Only she has the power to deal with her BPD.
~ The conversations between her therapist are theirs alone  since she is an adult.  Please consider letting this go.  I know it's hard.  You  can't go by what she says to you regarding her sessions either.  
~ You as an adult, have the right to move and live anywhere you want.  You have the same rights as she does.
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« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2020, 11:02:35 AM »

Well, as a person who has seen a variety of counselors in my life, I've had good ones, and others that were....not as good. They can be as opinionated as anyone else. Or they can be stellar. It's a mixed bag, I think, like any profession.

 

So to clarify...

Have you experienced a counselor that told you that you were not the problem, named someone else as the problem they had never met and insisted you communicate their judgment to the person the counselor had never met?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2020, 12:01:37 PM »

Formflier:

Yes, I have encountered counselors who suggested that other people were to blame for my problems.

Also, there are many counselors who blame their client's parents for their dysfunction. Read the "Is this all my fault? Did I cause this?" thread (warning: it's long) on this forum to get a sense of other peoples' frustration about the prevalent psychoanalytical theory that BPD is caused by parental abuse and/or neglect.

It seems to me that you are being rather combative, and I want to politely request that you be more aware of my feelings about this issue, or we should end our conversation here.
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« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2020, 12:13:10 PM »

Swimmy55:

Thanks. I feel as though I'm walking the line between trying to understand what went wrong so I don't do it again in the future, and accepting the fact that I can't control the past and letting it go.

It has only been a month and a half since my daughter initiated the estrangement. So I'm in the "what the heck went wrong?!" phase of my grief. Still in shock, I guess. It's my goal to get to acceptance, but I have to go through this long, painful process.

I will start therapy (again) next week, with a new counselor here in AZ, so we'll see how that goes.

I know you've been there yourself, so you understand. Many, if not most of the parents have gone through a similar process. It's so tough, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I guess, over time, we learn coping strategies, though I'm sure the pain doesn't diminish completely.

Thanks again for your compassion.

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« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2020, 12:20:56 PM »

Wow, can I ever relate to my son's therapist stating in front of him, his father , his step mother and me that it was my fault he was the way he was.  ( This is when he was  15)  This was Sheppard Pratt in Towson MD, so a very esteemed institution.     I had to go to her supervisor to complain about this ( didn't do much good).   I will write more later, but know you are not alone.  I am so happy you will see a therapist( I am doing that as well). 

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« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2020, 01:20:19 PM »



It seems to me that you are being rather combative, and I want to politely request that you be more aware of my feelings about this issue, or we should end our conversation here.

Oh my...please don't take this as combativeness, my goal was to introduce a different perspective and to make sure  we each understand each others life experiences.  

For instance...I had a "biblical counselor" claim that the Bible empowered him to overrule my VA doctors and that in fact I'm not a disabled veteran.  Obviously our counseling relationship ended and in fact my relationship with that church ended as well.

So...there are bad counselors out there.  That being said I would NOT recommend you take what your daughter said as an accurate recitation of the counselors words or intent.  

Is it possible it happened..yes.  

Is it likely?  Well, I would say not..especially if this counselor is an actual licensed mental health professional, since that would most likely be viewed by licensing boards as unethical behavior.

The most parsimonious explanation is that your daughter misunderstood something the counselor said and also felt more comfortable "pointing the finger" at someone else...rather than looking in the mirror.

If you ever get a chance to have additional conversation with your daughter about this...I would recommend you express concern and ask to speak to the counselor so you can understand and possibly heal the issue about which this counselor has made a judgment.

If it's a real issue....you will likely get access.

If it's not..then it's likely a "unfixable" and "un-understanble" problem that pwBPD often like to have, which appears to help them maintain victim status.

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

Please don't take my words as combative.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2020, 09:57:04 PM »

Formflier:

Thanks for the clarification. I really do appreciate it.

It's not my place to interfere in any way with my daughter's counseling process. She'd be unlikely to supply me with the name of the counselor, anyway, if we did start speaking again. And, if she resumed communication, I'd be most likely be too overjoyed to even think of asking.

She's entitled to her process, even if I disagree. Still, I am frustrated by the sudden vilification after all this time. I love my daughter and want her back, but I can't rush the resolution or magically fix a longstanding problem.

Thanks again for the taking the time to clarify your points and for sticking with the discussion.
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« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2020, 10:45:36 PM »

Swimmy55:

Yes, I am also glad that I'll be resuming counseling, now that I'm in a new locale. I had a wonderful counselor in WA state, so I got kind of spoiled.

I really have nothing against counselors, of course! A good one is a godsend. The others, not so much.

Sorry to hear about your experience. We parents experience so much guilt anyway. The last thing we need to hear is someone insisting our child's mental health condition is all our fault.
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« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2020, 11:52:57 PM »



It's not my place to interfere in any way with my daughter's counseling process. 

Right..and just to be clear, discussing it with her without participating would fall into interfering (IMO).

Very wise of you to let her counsel and they talk about whatever they talk about.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2020, 11:46:28 AM »

Hey MsLeah,
I totally get this - we have been dealing with my cancer and our relationship with my adult daughter blew up at about the same time. I am convinced her sudden blaming of me coincided with my diagnosis, out of her deeper fear of abandonment (my death). I have seen this before with my one (out of 5) siblings who is also BPD.

I totally agree with Swimmy55 when they advise that you not try to do a deep dive into seeking reasons to blame yourself. In a way, blaming yourself is a way of being co-dependent, and I have found the best and healthiest approach is to take care of yourself and your husband in loving ways.

Self-care and self-love sends a powerful message and modeling for your daughter. We only send messages to my BPD daughter around holidays and events, that are brief and appropriate. And we never respond to blaming or angry messages from her. That approach seems to have helped her get a least a little reoriented.

Having a break from dealing with a BPD child is a chance to focus on your own needs and I am sending you a wish for hope and ease in what you have been feeling - good luck!
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