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Author Topic: Meltdown - at a loss of what to do  (Read 203 times)
curious quandary

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« on: July 29, 2020, 01:58:51 PM »

I could really use some advice right about now…

My uBPDm had a meltdown today. Within the past week I’ve told her no that I won’t loan her money to buy some dishes (she gets paid on Friday) and no I didn’t want to get another dog. We have one now and have had a total of 10 dogs within the past 14 years. It’s a long story. I have a bad history of saying yes. The 8 dogs that we didn’t keep were re-homed. I have been talking with my T about setting boundaries and that it is more about the dynamic than a specific request.
Mom said that she lets me call all the shots and asks permission for everything and has no clue why I am angry all of the time. If she knew why she would just change. The only thing I could think to say was “I hear your frustration.” She said she could move out within a few months but she threatens/suggests that a couple of times a year. I’m supporting the both of us right now. I’ve been contemplating moving out myself and letting her stay here.
I recently told her that I get upset when she orders me around (right after she did it) and that all I wanted was to be asked nicely. That got all sorts of twisted around (gas lighting, passive aggressive, the works). That got thrown at me again today.

I’m at a complete loss.

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pursuingJoy
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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2020, 01:13:32 PM »

Hi curious!  Welcome new member (click to insert in post) We haven't met yet, but I went through and read your previous posts to catch up. Welcome to bpdfamily!  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

I know you feel like you're at a complete loss. It can be so overwhelming at first to change the tide. I get that.  Virtual hug (click to insert in post) I also want to point out that you're doing some really great things! You told her no to another dog.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) When she tried to engage you, you kept it simple: "I hear your frustration."   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) You expressed your need to be asked nicely.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

It's really normal for people who aren't used to boundaries to get upset and lash out when boundaries are set. You can often set your clock to it. When the gaslighting starts, I remind myself that my needs are just as important as hers, and my request is reasonable. When the distractions kick up, I bring it back to that simple point of focus - in your case, "I don't mind helping, but please ask nicely."

It is unsettling right now but that won't always be the case. You're learning a new way to relate to her, no small feat! I find that my internal dialogue, what I'm saying to myself and believing about myself, is the hardest part to navigate. Is that the case for you, too? If so, what are some of the things you start to wonder when she starts to gaslight?
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PearlsBefore

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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2020, 05:41:09 PM »

I don't know how important "another dog" is to her, but honestly if it's a big deal then it might be a Godsend; this might be the opportunity to segue her into moving back out on her own "so she has a place big enough for that other dog".

That said, I definitely hope you don't give in on the matter, so long as it's in your own house; dogs are one of those things that it's definitely the individual's choice/right to have or not have a dog as THEY prefer...not as their dependent relative prefers. And it sounds like you already have one (and a history of many more). As I've often heard, BPD like the IDEA of things more than they like things - they like the idea of being "the type of person" who has a chihuahua in their purse more than they actually like having the dog, or they like being "the type of person" who knits more than they like actually knitting, or they enjoy being "the type of person" who wants exciting world travel more than they actually enjoy the travel. (three examples from my own life with a... I'm assuming the term would be dBPDw/x here).

I'm assuming uBPDm stands for undiagnosed-BPD-mother and T for Therapist, but since I'm new to these boards I wish all the acronyms were automatically smart-text that had a tooltip hover above it if I put the mouse over it, explaining what it means Smiling (click to insert in post) Apologies if I misunderstood the situation.
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2020, 06:02:38 PM »

Dogs.
I have the dogs since wife left.
Thank goodness for em. Always happy to see ya.
(Unlike long gone bpd wife.)
You did the right thing. Put the hammer down. No more dogs.
You want em you move out and have em. No!  No means no!
What’s the drawback? Your gonna be trashed about something else in moments anyway.
No good  deed goes unpunished with bpd
That’s the truth.
Tow the line. Cut em off.
Bpd love a to make quick decisions and own no responsibility in long run.
  Just more responsibility for the somewhat sane bewildered partner when they go to the next idiot.

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curious quandary

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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2020, 06:53:43 PM »

Hi PursuingJoy! Thank you for your encouragement. I have been reading a lot and am trying to implement some of the strategies. My automatic fight/flight response and feelings are the scariest part right now. I freeze up, get overly anxious, and start to question myself. “Maybe I'm being unreasonable. This isn't that big of a deal.” Part of the reason is that I am unsure of what boundaries are important to me going in and that makes it very difficult to hold my ground. How have you worked to change your internal dialogue? How have you worked to improve your trust in your judgement?

Hi PearlsBefore! I'm confused by a lot of the acronyms too. You are correct though, undiagnosed BPD mother and therapist. This is definitely more about the IDEA of having a second dog than actually having it. This is THE reason we have acquired and re-homed so many dogs. She falls in love with a puppy or two, I cave because I hate to see her unhappy/angry, we get the puppy(s) and then some time down the road (months or even years) reality doesn't meet expectations, and she decides that we'd be better off without the dog(s). It's not that I'm trying to be mean but I know the pattern and am trying to prevent it from happening again. It's not fair to the animals and it's not fair to me. Since my past post she has suggested that we rehome our current dog of 4 years because she should be in a home with a friend. I have suggested that mom think about that decision for a couple of weeks, hoping that the dust will settle.

Hi Goosey – You are correct. This is about impulsive decisions and lack of long-term thinking and responsibility. I hate to be the person that has to “put the hammer down” but it's clearly come to that.

Thank you guys. What I needed more than anything was a kind word and the knowledge that I'm not alone.
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pursuingJoy
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2020, 08:30:35 AM »


My automatic fight/flight response and feelings are the scariest part right now. I freeze up, get overly anxious, and start to question myself.  

Super normal. I have a strong flight response too.  Virtual hug (click to insert in post) That gets easier to manage.

My ex was a boundary buster. After we separated and I moved in to a new place with kids, he would just walk in and look around and take his time. I told my therapist I didn't like it, and she told me I didn't have to let him in. (I needed permission. I really didn't know it was ok to say no.) Next time he came to the house to drop off the kids, he started to walk past me and said he needed to use the bathroom. I blocked the door and said no, he could use the bathroom at home. He stood there and mocked me, absolutely disgusted. I was scared and shaking. I felt ridiculous. (He just needed to pee!) But I stood my ground. And he left! Way to go! (click to insert in post) It was a major turning point for me.

It was important for me to identify what I liked/didn't like. I'd complicate this very simple process by negating what I cared about, or not caring at all. Think about what makes you sad? uncomfortable? frustrated? These are important.

You've decided it doesn't feel good when she gets a new dog, and it's not fair to the dog. You set a great boundary. When she pushes, because she will, stay calm and repeat. When you question yourself,  trust the decision your former (more rational) self made. Hold steady. What you're setting the boundary over is less important than actually holding it.


How have you worked to change your internal dialogue? How have you worked to improve your trust in your judgement?

I found bpdfamily because I felt 'crazy' and upside down. My MIL expertly gaslit me after I set a boundary with her, and my husband fell in step with his mom.

I found solid footing when I reached out and told my story and got stabilizing external feedback (therapy and this forum) that said, "yeah, we get it, and NO, that's not ok."

When I started learning about BPD, I realized that their responses are somewhat predictable. It's empowering to identify the patterns. They'll react, but you already saw it coming, so it's not a shock.

Identifying my triggers helped, too. I hurt when people accuse me of being heartless or cold. My H learned that early on, so he would use that any time he needed me to fold. By folding, I was conditioning him to repeat the behavior.

Progress is really encouraging too. Even though they're angry at first, my MIL and H will eventually respect my space because they know I won't fold. It's affirming to see your hard work pay off.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Thank you guys. What I needed more than anything was a kind word and the knowledge that I'm not alone.

You can count on it!  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 08:37:28 AM by pursuingJoy » Logged

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curious quandary

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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2020, 09:31:25 AM »

PursuingJoy, standing in the doorway to block your ex - wow that takes guts! And standing up to your MIL too. You are awesome! Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. "Negating what you care about or not caring" I get it. I've put my wants/needs aside for so long. I will definitely think about what makes me sad, frustrated, uncomfortable, and my triggers.

Ugh… she's treating me like I'm overreacting and about to blow, not wanting to bother me or interrupt me. "I'm just trying to do whatever it is that you want." Is that manipulation? Sure feels crummy while looking like she's being over-accommodating.

She's going to buy ramen and milk and replace all of "my food" that she eats. I told her that's not necessary in as kind a way as I could. She said "I hope I didn't make you feel guilty for all the years I supported you. I don't think I ever denied you anything or begrudged anything. I wanted you to be happy and I still do."

"Guilt grenades", that's what I call them. Lob them over and run. The only thing you can do is to duck and cover and wait for the dust to settle.

I recently read that, "guilt is only appropriate when you violate your own values." I have to keep asking myself, "whose values are these?" Mine? No? No guilt is required here.
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pursuingJoy
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2020, 10:01:26 AM »


No guilt is required here.


Nope. None at all.


She said "I hope I didn't make you feel guilty for all the years I supported you. I don't think I ever denied you anything or begrudged anything. I wanted you to be happy and I still do."

Oh wow she's good. That's absolutely manipulation. She's made herself the martyr. It's a common defense mechanism. No need to reassure or soothe. You've got this.   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

If martyr doesn't work, it's possible that she will flip to aggressor, or some other defense. No need to change your tactic. Live out your truth.  With affection (click to insert in post)


I recently read that, "guilt is only appropriate when you violate your own values."


 "Guilt grenades." Love this analogy! And they only have the power you give them, so you're really in control.

And I love this quote about violating your own values. YES. I'm stealing this.
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Panda39
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2020, 10:19:30 AM »

Hi curious quandary

I wanted to share information on FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt) or emotional blackmail.  I think it's helpful to be on the look out for it...it's usually there when you are feeling pressured to do something you don't want to do (loan your mom money...get another dog...etc.)  I find if I can recognize it and see it for what it is, it's easier to take it less personally and when you can take things less personally it can be easier to set a boundary.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=82926.0

Hang in there,
Panda39
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Mata

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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2020, 07:56:16 PM »

Hi curious quandary!  I'm sorry to hear you are having a difficult time with your mom.

I could really use some advice right about now…

My uBPDm had a meltdown today. Within the past week I’ve told her no


I've experienced the same type of behavior from by BPDmom when I've told her "no."  I think it is really common for the person with BPD to react strongly and negatively when we set any boundaries, and then if melting down doesn't work, they followup with manipulating or gaslighting or something else difficult to deal with.  My T has explained to me that my mom is trying to find a way to get her needs/wants met, but she doesn't have healthy tools. 

What I've learned is that the over time the meltdowns decrease.  My T reminds me not to give in to my mom's misbehavior, and to reinforce her good behavior.  So for example, when she sends me manipulative or hysterical text messages, I ignore them.  But if she sends me a pleasant message, I will respond.  It's taken a few months, but she seems to have caught on.  It's been a while since I got a really bad message. 

Excerpt
I have suggested that mom think about that decision for a couple of weeks, hoping that the dust will settle.

I've used this as technique with my mom.  She will get some terrible idea or want me to do something I don't think is a good idea.  So I will suggest we think about it, (basically put off any decision for a week or two.)  Often she gets distracted, or finds her own solution in the meantime.  It's a win for me because she moves on and I'm not the bad guy. 
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curious quandary

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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2020, 06:22:29 AM »

PursuingJoy, yes it is manipulation but I still have a hard time not feeling guilty. I am trying my darndest to live my own truth.

Panda39, thank you for the link. Yes, it has been feeling awfully FOG'gy at times. That is a good point about not taking it personally.

Mata, thank you. It helps to know that the meltdowns will decrease with time.

 Paragraph header (click to insert in post) - I'm supposed to add this before posting info that might be triggering??? If so, then consider that the warning for option #2 below.

I've been thinking about the options over the years. It's been consuming a large portion of my mental/emotional bandwidth, especially in the past 5 months due to the fact that I'm working from home and we're in the same house almost 24-7.

She's retired, has health issues that require a lot of medications, and makes very very little money from her retirement income. She worked 2 jobs to provide for my sister and I when our father left and I feel like she deserves to have a decent life. My sister is drowning in debt and is working to fix that. I don't feel like I can expect her to help financially. She has been good about providing emotional support. She gets it.

In order from least disruptive to most disruptive to mom
1. Keep the living arrangements as is but figure out and set boundaries. Work through the pushback. Somehow this feels like a life half lived for me. It's hard to explain.

2. Move myself into a small studio apartment and leave her in the house, at least short-term. I would be able to move most of my stuff but not all (larger items in garage).  It would be an additional expense for me. I would still visit a couple of times a week. She can drive and is currently using one of my old cars. She would feel like it is the end of the world though, that everyone has rejected her. She has mentioned suicide in the past, along the lines of “life is spiraling out of control and everyone would be better if I weren't here." I have suggested she get help which got the reply, “I”M NOT CRAZY!” I explained that I wasn't calling her crazy. I told her I loved her and hated seeing her in this much pain and that sometimes life sucks and it helps to have someone to talk to. No luck. I didn't push the issue. She feels horribly guilty over the fact that I'm supporting her and has accused me of making her feel guilty (I'm not). This option SCARES me for many reasons. It'll be going through absolute hell short-term in order to get my life back long term. I'm not sure I'm ready for the fallout but I don't think I'll ever be ready.

3. Move us both when the lease is up at the end of this month or in a year. End of this month is too soon, and moving us both would be like option 2 but with even more upheaval. We moved last year from one house to another and it was a huge deal. She said that it brought up horrible memories of when she packed to move in with her bf (one of my older coworkers) and he changed his mind. He bought the house just for the two of them, but after 2 years of fighting/make-up/break-up cycles he ended it. He's still a friend and helped us move, but yea... She has so much stuff too.

4. She has suggested that she could move back into her father's house, as part of past guilt trips. That house isn't fit for anyone to live in (water turned off bc of plumbing problems, mold, etc.). He refuses to get anything fixed, we've offered and he can afford it. She wouldn't be able keep most of her stuff or decorate as she loves to. This feels like a prison sentence.

So... #2 feels like the smartest option but idk. I feel like I have to wait for things to get “bad enough” to justify leaving, whatever that means. There's no way I'll ever be able to explain it to her in a way that she'll understand. She'll feel like I'm abandoning her and that I don't love her and that breaks my heart.
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« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2020, 07:15:57 PM »

On #3, many jurisdictions actually allow you to switch to "month to month" after you complete your first lease - which might ease up some of the stress wherein this month is too soon but 12 months is too far out. Talk to your landlord, realistically he doesn't want to risk you moving out this month either and he has to try to find somebody new in the middle of Covid, etc; suggest to him either going month-to-month or perhaps renewable 3-month leases, etc?
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