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Author Topic: Relationship with family of origin  (Read 1282 times)
truthdevotee
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« on: February 12, 2021, 03:40:52 AM »

Hi all

I guess the answer to this is to build the skills needed to better live with and interact with my partner, as well as to increase my own resilience, not take her reactions personally, and not be afraid to weather her storms. However, I just want to share and express this and welcome any insight and feedback regarding tools I can use or personal development work I can do to resolve the situation.

My pwBPD dislikes my family of origin. I have two older sisters and mother and father. In particular, she dislikes the sisters and mother. The situation is multi-faceted and there have been things that I've needed to see and recognize.

The current situation is that whenever I mention I would like to contact them, it results in turmoil, attacks for being a mamas boy, anger and hatred, and chaos for our two boys, 3 years old and 2 years old. It has got to the point where I've become resigned and prefer not to even mention them because I know it will create chaos. I've lost a hold of my values in this area of life which is to respect and love the wider family even if there is some dysfunction. I wish I could just contact them in a normal way, connect in a normal way, and be at peace, but my pwBPD's reactions to them are so intense that it's become preferable for me (and better for my boys), to have extremely limited contact.

The work on my side has been to become conscious of the enmeshment issues between me and my older sisters/mother, a kind of 'over-closeness and warmth'. I didn't realize that this pattern could be unhealthy; it just seemed supportive and loving. However, I see it in a more balanced way now and see the co-dependancy that was there in my family of origin.

For my pwBPD, it's intense whenever I so much as mention them. Whereas I received an overabundance of maternal love growing up, my pwBPD had the opposite; her mother died when she was 8 years old and she was brought up by her emotionally distant, critical and harsh father. Therefore, she received no love and hugs and no assistance in processing the pain of losing her mother (resulting in her BPD, quite likely).

Ideally, I'd like to contact them frequently on my own mobile phone. Currently, my pwBPD has their telephone number and I'm only to message them via her phone. Additionally, I don't call them from my own phone. Additionally, I ask now and again if we can Skype them with our boys who will also benefit from having a good relationship with the wider family. There is 99% of the time an excuse why not to do it, and she threatens that if I call them on Skype video with our boys and not her, there will be trouble, our relationship will be over, etc.

So, to keep the peace, to ensure a loving atmosphere for our boys, I've been through a lot of grieving and let's say "the death of my values" in this area of life. At the same time, I've grown by noticing the co-dependent patterns between me and my 'three mothers' (my pwBPD refers to them as the 'three mothers'). It's been tough, but I'm now peaceful about it and less frequently imagine my mother grieving for the loss of her "son." She (my mother) has had her own work to do in this area, I'm sure.

My parents aren't getting any younger... my mother was recently diagnosed with heart failure... I'm pretty sure she's extremely upset that I don't contact them anymore. It's a tough situation and has tested me in so many ways.
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2021, 07:36:52 PM »



So...

What question are you asking us?

Do you have a therapist that is helping you evaluate the health of your relationships? (with your FOO and others)

Best,

FF

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truthdevotee
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2021, 12:29:51 AM »

Hi FF

Thanks for writing.

I've worked with a therapist over the years. This was helpful and supportive although he didn't recognize my wife's BPD patterns. He did recognize my enmeshment issues and ADHD (he experienced the same conditions). Although he understood the enmeshment issues to a certain extent, I didn't absorb from him what was happening on a deeper level. He just advised me to prioritize my wife and cut off contact with FOO until things are better with her... I did exactly this but things are not getting better, so I wonder if my wife's BPD is playing a part here. The deeper realization of the enmeshment issues came only recently (i.e. in last 6 weeks) when I found deep understanding and insight from this  book https://www.amazon.de/When-Hes-Married-Mom-Mother-Enmeshed/dp/0743291387.

I'm confused what my question is as well... I'm not sure... it's just a tough situation because I feel that although I've had enmeshment issues, my FOO are good people overall and did their best to provide a stable upbringing. Yet my wife totally rejects them and wishes them dead (when in a BPD rage). Although I have essentially cut them off completely and come to realize the deeper dynamics with regard to enmeshment, she is still in the same "place" emotionally. Bare in mind that I've lived out of the country I grew up in, thousands of km away from my FOO for over 10 years... despite the very infrequent contact with them (now extremely rare), and the work I've been doing, she is still in the same place...

So... if I have any question I suppose it's a general one about learning the skills with marriage to a BPD: how to request what I want, what I feel is the right thing (i.e. some level of contact and warmth toward the FOO and not rejecting them), and how to "weather the inevitable storms" that my pwBPD will go through when I mention my feelings/thoughts... etc. This applies in general. For example, yesterday, I gently mentioned that I'd really love if she could wake up at the same time as me to help with the children getting ready for school... it resulted in several hours of rage/unloading/blame/criticism and interupted my working day (I rarely fulfil my hours in my job due to my caretaking toward her and her struggle to manage the 2 boys (3 years old and 1 year old)).

In general, I feel mostly invisible in the relationship. My deeper feelings, thoughts etc., can't be expressed as they can result in triggering her. Granted, this has all been my choice - not to fight - because I saw how deeply the children were being effected when I did it. So this underlying issue exists between my pwBPD, the love is not flowing as I feel distant from her almost all the time in relation to her outbursts (the inner child within me says "it's not fair" and I can't seem to get past that, even though I keep it silent and hidden - if I express it, she will burst).

How can I get to the point where I don't feel this underlying continuous distance from her and resentment? How can I live in the midst of her outbursts and general high levels of criticism and still love her and feel the love flowing towards her?
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2021, 06:10:33 AM »

I think it's a good thing that you are recognizing your co-dependent patterns with your FOO, if they do exist, however, I am also wondering in whose opionion are you "co-dependent" with them? From your post, it seems they are decent and loving people and while families may not be perfect, it seems your FOO was intact and loving and it's not abnormal (IMHO) to continue to want to have contact with ones siblings and parents.

On the other hand you are seeking a way to ignore your values and wishes without feeling resentment about it. And your question is how to not feel the resentment and continue to love your partner while ignoring a value that means something to you.

I will propose a different way of looking at this, something I had to learn as a part of working on my own co-dependent tendencies. While we need to put emotions into context, and we need to decide whether or not to act on them and how- we should also not ignore them. They are the way we "speak to ourselves" and when we stop listening to them, we can disconnect from our values. What you are asking is - how to not listen to your own self?  Why should you do that?

Enmeshment a form of poor boundaries- not know what is you and what is not you. I don't know the extent of this with your FOO, but it seems you are asking to make your wife's wishes - for you to not contact your family- and not feel bad about it. But you do feel bad about it because it goes against your basic value of being in contact with them. You are asking to change your values to match your wife's wishes and be OK with it. Basically become enmeshed with your wife- her wishes become your wishes.

Resentment is the feeling one gets when they give up something of value in order to please another person or keep the peace. It's actually your sign that you are engaging in co-dependent behavior. In my work on co-dependency I was told to listen to that- and found it was correct- when I was crossing the line to co-dependency- I felt resentment. This didn't mean I acted on each feeling, but I learned to pay attention to it as a way to decrease my co-dependent behavior as I wanted to do that.

This doesn't mean it's easy to do, and it can be met with a reaction from your partner, but it becomes a choice- to make a change or not.

The situation you are facing isn't uncommon with BPD. If you read the family boards, there are heartbreaking posts from mothers of sons who married BPD women and who are now cut off from their sons and grandchildren for some possible imagined or real slight on their part with the BPD wife. There are also sisters and daughters. For some reason, it tends to be the female family member. I think the reasons for this are due to some kind of fear and sense of competition. Jealousy towards the affection for the female family member and also - fear the family member will say something critical about the BPD spouse, or encourage them to leave the relationship. Cutting contact is a way to relieve these fears and feelings- but they can't or don't recognize the source of the feelings so the reason is something else- something the family member did or said, or a criticism of the relationship itself - calling you a mamas boy- because you want to speak to your mother?  Do you really believe that?

Yes there is such a thing as being too enmeshed with a mother, but on the other hand not all feelings of love towards your mother and siblings are enmeshment.

I don't know where you want to go with this, because I don't see a way to make a change and be able to contact your family without your wife being upset about it. Your other choice is to not contact them and deal with or ignore your own feelings about it.

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truthdevotee
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2021, 08:46:15 AM »

I think it's a good thing that you are recognizing your co-dependent patterns with your FOO, if they do exist, however, I am also wondering in whose opionion are you "co-dependent" with them? From your post, it seems they are decent and loving people and while families may not be perfect, it seems your FOO was intact and loving and it's not abnormal (IMHO) to continue to want to have contact with ones siblings and parents.

On the other hand you are seeking a way to ignore your values and wishes without feeling resentment about it. And your question is how to not feel the resentment and continue to love your partner while ignoring a value that means something to you.

I will propose a different way of looking at this, something I had to learn as a part of working on my own co-dependent tendencies. While we need to put emotions into context, and we need to decide whether or not to act on them and how- we should also not ignore them. They are the way we "speak to ourselves" and when we stop listening to them, we can disconnect from our values. What you are asking is - how to not listen to your own self?  Why should you do that?

Enmeshment a form of poor boundaries- not know what is you and what is not you. I don't know the extent of this with your FOO, but it seems you are asking to make your wife's wishes - for you to not contact your family- and not feel bad about it. But you do feel bad about it because it goes against your basic value of being in contact with them. You are asking to change your values to match your wife's wishes and be OK with it. Basically become enmeshed with your wife- her wishes become your wishes.

Resentment is the feeling one gets when they give up something of value in order to please another person or keep the peace. It's actually your sign that you are engaging in co-dependent behavior. In my work on co-dependency I was told to listen to that- and found it was correct- when I was crossing the line to co-dependency- I felt resentment. This didn't mean I acted on each feeling, but I learned to pay attention to it as a way to decrease my co-dependent behavior as I wanted to do that.

This doesn't mean it's easy to do, and it can be met with a reaction from your partner, but it becomes a choice- to make a change or not.

The situation you are facing isn't uncommon with BPD. If you read the family boards, there are heartbreaking posts from mothers of sons who married BPD women and who are now cut off from their sons and grandchildren for some possible imagined or real slight on their part with the BPD wife. There are also sisters and daughters. For some reason, it tends to be the female family member. I think the reasons for this are due to some kind of fear and sense of competition. Jealousy towards the affection for the female family member and also - fear the family member will say something critical about the BPD spouse, or encourage them to leave the relationship. Cutting contact is a way to relieve these fears and feelings- but they can't or don't recognize the source of the feelings so the reason is something else- something the family member did or said, or a criticism of the relationship itself - calling you a mamas boy- because you want to speak to your mother?  Do you really believe that?

Yes there is such a thing as being too enmeshed with a mother, but on the other hand not all feelings of love towards your mother and siblings are enmeshment.

I don't know where you want to go with this, because I don't see a way to make a change and be able to contact your family without your wife being upset about it. Your other choice is to not contact them and deal with or ignore your own feelings about it.




Dear Notwendy

Thanks - from the bottom of my heart - for sharing everything you shared. It's extremely eye-opening. I've read it three times over already.

I have limited time right now to reply - there's so much I could reply to. I just want to say that everything you said is spot on - and one of the first things I need to do is look through the family board that you mentioned. It's sad and also comforting that this situation is a recognizable/common pattern.

It's exactly as you said - real and/or imagined slights (simple humanness) that my pwBPD has magnified significantly. Her memory has morphed seeing only the negative in them and their behavior towards her. For a long time, I tried to convince her that they - my FOO - love her - and I sincerely believed they did - but she could never absorb that or believe it. About 3 years ago I gave up trying to convince her. It's gone on for so many years that I've been progressively passive, and I even feel "peace" about it all which is most likely *apathy* because I just haven't been able to do what I truly want - keep a healthy level of fun and loving contact with family members. Everything in relation to them, even a simple comment, was enough to trigger my pwBPD.

That's my goal - that's what I intend to do - re-establish contact. It's going to be hard but I have to do it, because I see that apathy/passivity is simply death and not growth. I need to do it in a way that the peaceful home for my children isn't too much threatened. Perhaps this means taking it slowly. Almost like establishing a hierarchy of progressive steps. This would be for myself and for my pwBPD, because I've just lost so much energy to contact my FOO.

My value is constant growth - daily growth - bit by bit. I truly believe my FOO deserve love, no matter how much my pwBPD says that don't. My pwBPD's contradictions are endless; she has two rule-sets, one for herself and one for everybody else. It's only in the past 1 week that I've discovered that she has high-functioning BPD.

My FOO are an average and good family; I was born into a family with 2 older sisters and a mother, and a father who was quite absent. Definitely issues on both side, especially my mother's side (she is obese with chronic fatigue and perhaps other condition(s)). My parents had issues and some of my worst memories are about their fights. However, I felt that ultimately they were dedicated to making things work and they loved their kids.

I grew up with issues that most likely related to the childhood negativity and have experienced mental health issues such as OCD since my 20s, and ADHD. ADHD was only diagnosed 1 year ago and I suspect it manifested more obviously in relation to my pwBPD. I've gotten into deep negative emotional states over the years with my pwBPD and depression... the constant being controlled, the immense frustration/despair about her contradictions, not being heard/listened to, etc. I'm now calm most of the time and have let go of a lot of my own negativity. However, I sadly don't feel close to her because I see/feel that she runs the whole show... part of my heart is suppressed under the issues that I've learned to let be as they are.

Thanks very much for your words; they've sparked a new direction for me...

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formflier
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2021, 09:16:29 AM »

Although I have essentially cut them off completely and come to realize the deeper dynamics with regard to enmeshment, she is still in the same "place" emotionally. 

What does this insight "tell" you?

Best,

FF
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truthdevotee
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2021, 09:28:33 AM »

What does this insight "tell" you?

Best,

FF

Hi FF,

I suppose it tells me:

1. That my pwBPD's emotions/perceptions aren't about me - they're about her
2. That I need to make my own decisions. I need to learn to listen to my own heart, figure out what I think and feel about things, and act accordingly. I'm essentially blown about like a leaf in the wind, trying to prove my worth to another person, depending on the most who is influencing me - especially my pwBPD...

I remember the alarm bells I had at the beginning of the relationship. I stayed primarily due to the influence of my 12 Step sponsor at that time
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2021, 09:55:26 AM »


2. That I need to make my own decisions. I need to learn to listen to my own heart, figure out what I think and feel about things, and act accordingly. I'm essentially blown about like a leaf in the wind, trying to prove my worth to another person, depending on the most who is influencing me - especially my pwBPD...

 

OK...let's expand on this.

Listen to your own heart about?

Who have you been listening to?

Best,

FF
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truthdevotee
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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2021, 10:12:36 AM »

OK...let's expand on this.

Listen to your own heart about?

Who have you been listening to?

Best,

FF


Hi FF,

I listen to the thoughts/feelings of others a lot to the point where I might not even be sure what I think about the situation with my family of origin.

When I read the book on enmeshment recently, I saw my pattern: I was fearful and upset about not contacting my mother and sisters because of how that would make *them* feel. That is, I was aware of the grief and pain my mother and sisters were going through and I felt that it was extremely bad to allow that. I was driven to keep the contact. Meanwhile, in my own home, my pwBPD was reacting in extremely negative ways.

Although I had left the country physically, it seemed I had not left emotionally. I was still easily controlled by their feelings.

I've been listening to my FOO (even if their feelings weren't expressed), and I've been listening to my pwBPD. I haven't listened to myself...

Do I want contact with my FOO? Maybe I just want to be alone - away from my FOO and my pwBPD, to find out who I am. I'm not sure if this is true, but it might be. It's hard for me to make contact with what I want, with what my deepest desires are. My pwBPD on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants in every situation. Hence, I'm easily swayed.

To summarize, I guess I need to find a way to contact my deeper self and guidance. I've known this for some time, but I hadn't made this connection in relation to the FOO - what do *I feel* about the contact, lack of contact, etc., beyond their feelings, and the feelings of my pwBPD.
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2021, 11:16:54 AM »

So you have had experience with 12 steps and I also have worked with that for co-dependency.

I can understand the not knowing what feelings are yours and what are someone else's due to being raised in a family where that is the "normal" for a child. I think you have a good idea that the path to change this is with yourself, and that it would take some time. Sometimes it's not linear either, people can backtrack a bit sometimes but with practice it gets easier to recognize when one is backtracking and get on course.

I don't think we have to not consider the other person's feelings in our decisions. I think we need to stay consious of these choices and the consequences and also be centered on what we want to do. If someone is dating and recognizes the dynamics are not healthy, or they feel uncomfortable in it, then breaking it off- even if it hurts the other person's feelings could be the better decision than staying in it to "spare their feelings" and ignoring the discomfort. Once married with children, the decision is weighed in consideration of other factors. One does need to consider the childrens' well being.

Cutting off contact with a family member does cause tremendous hurt for all involved and in cases where the relationship is so toxic and abusive, it might be the better decision. Still, a decision involves weighing all the consequences.

I agree that to start you need to get in touch with who you are- starting with the small things. You might not even know what you want to have for lunch if you've been influenced by others, or even what TV show you want to watch on TV if you let others choose for you. Self care is key and easier said than done. Do something small- pick a book you like, or a TV show, or even get something you like to eat. Take your phone #s back on your phone. Don't ask your wife for permission to make a call. You are an adult and you will make your own calls.

I do have some experience working on this. I was raised with a BPD mother and enmeshed and enabling father. My mother's feelings and moods prevailed. I became a people pleaser and an enabler and brought that pattern into other relationships. Observing my parents and the issues I had with them were one thing that motivated me to make a change. Somehow some of the patterns in my own marriage had similarities to theirs and my fears of someone being unhappy or angry at me if I didn't do what they wanted contributed to that.

I think it would interest you to read about the Karpman triangle and the role it plays in dysfunctional relationships. It certainly explained my parents' dynamics between them and with others- those that took on the persecutor role, while my mother took on victim role and my father was the rescuer. This triangle also played out with their children and then, I seemed to take these dynamics into other relationships as well. It's not a surprise that this is the "normal" for children growing up with this pattern. It's all they know at the time, but it can be changed and the benefit is also for your children as you won't role model it for them if you choose to make changes.







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truthdevotee
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2021, 01:11:45 PM »

Hi Notwendy,

Thanks very much for your insightful share.

Excerpt
So you have had experience with 12 steps and I also have worked with that for co-dependency.

Yeah, I've been in the program for about 8 years. Recovery from addiction and work on self-centeredness. Life has greatly improved over the years as a result of working the program.

Excerpt
I don't think we have to not consider the other person's feelings in our decisions. I think we need to stay consious of these choices and the consequences and also be centered on what we want to do.

So true... the middle path...

Excerpt
Take your phone #s back on your phone. Don't ask your wife for permission to make a call. You are an adult and you will make your own calls.

Thanks a lot for supporting me with this. What comes up initially for me is fear... the last time I said I'd do this, about 6 weeks ago, my pwBPD said it would be the end of the relationship. In essence I was asking for permission, and didn't take the action out of fear of the consequences. She threatened to lock me out of the house. She said, as she does a few times a year, that our relationship would reach a new level of awful.

So, if were to do this "behind her back" I'm not sure what her reaction would be, but I'm guessing... not good... I would be attacked as I have been countless times for being mamas boy, awful careless husband who has no idea how to be in marriage, etc. She would blame me saying it's almost the same as cheating. All this would bring turmoil for the boys at home.

I would LOVE to do it. I'm just not sure if I want to face the consequences. I welcome any and all feedback on my perspective here, please feel free to comment. I guess, if I want to re-establish contact as well as re-gain *personal freedom* I need to be taking actions such as these?

Excerpt
I do have some experience working on this. I was raised with a BPD mother and enmeshed and enabling father. My mother's feelings and moods prevailed. I became a people pleaser and an enabler and brought that pattern into other relationships. Observing my parents and the issues I had with them were one thing that motivated me to make a change. Somehow some of the patterns in my own marriage had similarities to theirs and my fears of someone being unhappy or angry at me if I didn't do what they wanted contributed to that.


Thanks for sharing.

I played the role of mediator, trying to bring chaos into peace. Compulsively trying to make mum and dad feel better. I feared their divorce but at one point in time desired it.

The situation with my pwBPD and FOO is an echo of that mediator role I played as a child between my parents... desiring to the end of the earth a happy atmosphere and the end of conflict between the two most important "sides" of my life.

Excerpt
I think it would interest you to read about the Karpman triangle and the role it plays in dysfunctional relationships. It certainly explained my parents' dynamics between them and with others- those that took on the persecutor role, while my mother took on victim role and my father was the rescuer. This triangle also played out with their children and then, I seemed to take these dynamics into other relationships as well. It's not a surprise that this is the "normal" for children growing up with this pattern. It's all they know at the time, but it can be changed and the benefit is also for your children as you won't role model it for them if you choose to make changes.

Thanks, I'll check this out.

I'm determined to heal all of this so as to give my boys the best life and future possible.
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2021, 01:49:26 PM »

So here is some things I learned from being in 12 step groups. When a counselor first suggested it ,I was shocked actually as drugs or alcohol is not an issue I was dealing with. It was for co-dependency and as I sat in a group of people who were there for various reasons, I really wondered what the connection might be, as I didn't see it at first.

You've already got the tools to move from dealing with what you went there for the first time to being an enabler in a sense where you are now. The same things that lead someone to substance abuse are the same things that lead them to being co-dependent and enmeshed- our character "defects" and fear, anger, resentment are big ones. The addictive part is - being addicted to emotional drama and to people - people pleasing. The goal for this is emotional sobriety and what does that mean? The ability to separate our emotions into what is us, what is the other person and to not be so reactive to the other person's feelings. The drink or the drug? The "bait" that gets us into these circular arguments and the high is the emotions we have during them. The next day is an emotional hangover.

I'm using this terminology as I know you are familiar with it and so it might work for you. I did finally find where I would fit into these ideas and that was in an ACA group, which has expanded beyond alcohol to "children of dysfunction" and the patterns in these families are remarkably similar to those for children of alcoholics. They have their adapted version- the Red Book. The "laundry list" resonated with me.

What I found were that there were several recovering alcoholics and addicts in the group. They had gone through the original 12 step groups to quit the substance. That was a main goal as it is so much of a danger to their well being they need to make this a priority. Then these recovering addicts found themselves in ACA and CODA groups to also deal with the emotions and situations they were using drugs/alcohol to escape from. They got sober from the substance and they wanted to become "emotionally sober" then too

In this group were also grandchildren of alcoholics and dysfunction. Their parents didn't drink or use drugs but the family patterns of enabling and codependency were persistent- and they were there to change this pattern for themselves.

With the pandemic, so many groups are online now. This might be a way for you to do some self work on these ideas.






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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2021, 09:47:18 PM »

We can allow our spouses undue influence over our choices. To change that can seem frightening as we might believe there are severe consequences to choosing to live life the way we truly want.

It sounds like your wife is jealous of the closeness you had in your family of origin. Whether or not that was unhealthy, she has chosen to block you from having a continuing relationship with them. That is unhealthy, no question about it.

If you choose to reengage with your family, that is your choice, not hers. Perhaps she will enact consequences if you do, or maybe these are empty threats.

I’ve found that I need to do what is right for me, consequences be damned. That can be a difficult path with a BPD spouse. but sometimes the threats are worse than the reality.
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2021, 04:17:45 AM »

So here is some things I learned from being in 12 step groups. When a counselor first suggested it ,I was shocked actually as drugs or alcohol is not an issue I was dealing with. It was for co-dependency and as I sat in a group of people who were there for various reasons, I really wondered what the connection might be, as I didn't see it at first.

You've already got the tools to move from dealing with what you went there for the first time to being an enabler in a sense where you are now. The same things that lead someone to substance abuse are the same things that lead them to being co-dependent and enmeshed- our character "defects" and fear, anger, resentment are big ones. The addictive part is - being addicted to emotional drama and to people - people pleasing. The goal for this is emotional sobriety and what does that mean? The ability to separate our emotions into what is us, what is the other person and to not be so reactive to the other person's feelings. The drink or the drug? The "bait" that gets us into these circular arguments and the high is the emotions we have during them. The next day is an emotional hangover.

I'm using this terminology as I know you are familiar with it and so it might work for you. I did finally find where I would fit into these ideas and that was in an ACA group, which has expanded beyond alcohol to "children of dysfunction" and the patterns in these families are remarkably similar to those for children of alcoholics. They have their adapted version- the Red Book. The "laundry list" resonated with me.

What I found were that there were several recovering alcoholics and addicts in the group. They had gone through the original 12 step groups to quit the substance. That was a main goal as it is so much of a danger to their well being they need to make this a priority. Then these recovering addicts found themselves in ACA and CODA groups to also deal with the emotions and situations they were using drugs/alcohol to escape from. They got sober from the substance and they wanted to become "emotionally sober" then too

In this group were also grandchildren of alcoholics and dysfunction. Their parents didn't drink or use drugs but the family patterns of enabling and codependency were persistent- and they were there to change this pattern for themselves.

With the pandemic, so many groups are online now. This might be a way for you to do some self work on these ideas.



Thank you so much, Notwendy. This is super insightful.

I'm just replying quickly as just about to take the children out for sledging (it's snowing where we are).

I've been in an online group over the years called SCA (self-centeredness anonymous) which is based on this part of the blue book: “Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles." It's been a very, very small group over the years with the same few members coming and going and coming back again. The benefit has been the online setup, without which I could never have had the stableness of experience, strength and hope.

However, I've never understood things to the level you have described here. And, by reading what you wrote, I see that I have not recovered from co-dependency. The fear of going against my partner and her threats have been too much for me. Hence, I need to take Step 1.
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2021, 04:21:56 AM »

Thank you so much, Notwendy. This is super insightful.

I'm just replying quickly as just about to take the children out for sledging (it's snowing where we are).

I've been in an online group over the years called SCA (self-centeredness anonymous) which is based on this part of the blue book: “Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles." It's been a very, very small group over the years with the same few members coming and going and coming back again. The benefit has been the online setup, without which I could never have had the stableness of experience, strength and hope.

However, I've never understood things to the level you have described here. And, by reading what you wrote, I see that I have not recovered from co-dependency. The fear of going against my partner and her threats have been too much for me. Hence, I need to take Step 1.



Thank you so very much.

Without this guidance, I could not move forward.

After reading your message, I've decided to take action. This coming week, I plan to contact my mum & dad on my own mobile phone, without the presence of my pwBPD listening in (inevitably, her listening in always caused intense blame and criticism toward me and FOO after my calls).

I'd do this today, but it's Valentines day and I don't want her to have something else under her belt to target i.e. "I can't BELIEVE you have done this on Valentines day. You mamas boy!"

I'll do this during next week. Today I'm spending time visualizing a loving outcome for all in my mind's eye (as sports people do as they visualize their best performances when in competition). Also, I will brainstorm on how to approach it; I think I'll tell her I'm going to do it before doing it, and do so with an easy-going attitude and that I'm ready to move on - I've seen my enmeshment issues, and that my values tell me that this isn't a reason to completely cut them out.

Open to any guidance at all times. Thanks so much for support. I'll keep you all updated.
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« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2021, 05:29:49 AM »

Oops

Above message was in reply to Cat Familiar
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2021, 06:30:39 AM »

Maybe I shouldn't tell her beforehand. Maybe just call them and mention it to her after.

At least this would avoid any manipulation beforehand. She'll blame me for doing something behind her back but I can just be prepared for that.
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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2021, 06:33:02 AM »

I think it will help to not react to the name calling. So what- she can call you whatever she wants. One thing that helped me was to substitute something obsurd, like pink elephant for the insult. One reason we react to these things is poor boundaries. We need to be sure of what we are and what we are not. We react to these accusations because we allow someone else's opinion to decide that. Actually we decide that.

When we are accused of something, we consider if it is true or not. So let's say it's true- someone says we did something wrong- well we can then decide to make ammends for that. But just because they say it doesn't make it true and we don't have to take action on it.

Calling your mother does not make one a mama's boy. People do call their parents. When your kids are grown and have their own families- I think you would want them to call you and keep in touch. You know what a mama's boy is- that might be someone calling his mother five times a day or something like that. You aren't doing that and you know that.

Still- you are afraid of being called a mamas boy- why? That's a boundary problem. Because somehow her saying that might mean it's true- as if the two of you are the same person. But you aren't- you are your own separate person with your own thoughts.

Now substitute "pink elephant". Are you afraid that if she says you are an elephant that you might actually be one? I don't think so. That's a boundary as well- you are quite certain you are a human. Someone can think you are an elephant but that doesn't mean it's true.

Take this "pink elephant" boundary and apply it to the insult. Calling your parents doesn't make you a mamas boy. She will say what she says. You hold on to what you know is true about you.
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« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2021, 06:39:30 AM »

I don't think it's a good idea to bring this up on Valentine's Day. Not because you should be afraid to call your parents but the timing- a day that is supposed to be romantic- is not the time to start something new like this. It would be different if you have been calling your parents on Sunday and this is a pattern you have. But to suddenly bring it up on Valentines Day isn't good timing.

I don't think you have to tell her or ask her permission. However, it's probably better to not be sneaky about it. One goal that I know is covered in 12 steps is being authentic. That's really tough when one has been walking on egghells. But this is a normal thing- to call parents on occasion.

When you are able to say it- make it brief, short, to the point and don't JADE. Yes there will likely be a reaction and manipulation but that's on her end. Call your parents from work- when she's not around or there may be lots of interruptions. Simply say " I have been thinking about my family and miss them and want to contact them" . Then let her pitch a fit. Do not JADE- there's nothing to defend as you are not doing anything wrong.  It's hard to stand up for something you want to do, but in this situation you will need to do that.
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« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2021, 08:23:13 AM »

I think it will help to not react to the name calling. So what- she can call you whatever she wants. One thing that helped me was to substitute something obsurd, like pink elephant for the insult. One reason we react to these things is poor boundaries. We need to be sure of what we are and what we are not. We react to these accusations because we allow someone else's opinion to decide that. Actually we decide that.

When we are accused of something, we consider if it is true or not. So let's say it's true- someone says we did something wrong- well we can then decide to make ammends for that. But just because they say it doesn't make it true and we don't have to take action on it.

Calling your mother does not make one a mama's boy. People do call their parents. When your kids are grown and have their own families- I think you would want them to call you and keep in touch. You know what a mama's boy is- that might be someone calling his mother five times a day or something like that. You aren't doing that and you know that.

Still- you are afraid of being called a mamas boy- why? That's a boundary problem. Because somehow her saying that might mean it's true- as if the two of you are the same person. But you aren't- you are your own separate person with your own thoughts.

Now substitute "pink elephant". Are you afraid that if she says you are an elephant that you might actually be one? I don't think so. That's a boundary as well- you are quite certain you are a human. Someone can think you are an elephant but that doesn't mean it's true.

Take this "pink elephant" boundary and apply it to the insult. Calling your parents doesn't make you a mamas boy. She will say what she says. You hold on to what you know is true about you.

I'm grateful for every word...

It's overwhelming because I know every word is true and it is eye-opening, and I suppose might take time to fully absorb and especially integrate. I don't need to blame my partner for being in this situation (as I have done "privately" in my mind) because I created it; my lack of boundaries, lack of knowing the truth for myself about my own self, individuation, etc. I attracted her into my life unconsciously for a deep reason, and I see it's to heal this.

I feel guided to find a group as you mentioned before, ACA or CODA. To continue in recovery I need to find people working on the same thing; in my current group, which is very small, we're not really working on the same things and some of the guidance over the years, in hindsight, hasn't been helpful. My sponsor didn't see the root of the issues I've been experiencing. I love him dearly for his support and loyalty, and for building me up and sharing his devotion to his own growth and development, yet in this particular situation he hasn't been able to give me the insights I needed.

I'm grateful to be here now... so grateful... and to find a new group to work on co-dependency is really important.

Thank you for every word...
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« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2021, 08:40:19 AM »

I don't think it's a good idea to bring this up on Valentine's Day. Not because you should be afraid to call your parents but the timing- a day that is supposed to be romantic- is not the time to start something new like this. It would be different if you have been calling your parents on Sunday and this is a pattern you have. But to suddenly bring it up on Valentines Day isn't good timing.

Thank you for sharing this, made me more peaceful as I have this overwhelming desire to heal this situation. My impatience hasn't served me in the past...

Excerpt
I don't think you have to tell her or ask her permission. However, it's probably better to not be sneaky about it. One goal that I know is covered in 12 steps is being authentic. That's really tough when one has been walking on egghells. But this is a normal thing- to call parents on occasion.

When you are able to say it- make it brief, short, to the point and don't JADE. Yes there will likely be a reaction and manipulation but that's on her end. Call your parents from work- when she's not around or there may be lots of interruptions. Simply say " I have been thinking about my family and miss them and want to contact them" . Then let her pitch a fit. Do not JADE- there's nothing to defend as you are not doing anything wrong.  It's hard to stand up for something you want to do, but in this situation you will need to do that.

I am so grateful for the guidance. Makes me feel 10x more confident how to approach this. Even the point about the fact I'm not doing something wrong is important for me... I suppose I've been so programmed on an almost daily basis about what is wrong and right in my pwBPD's eyes, that I don't even know for myself. Over time I've lost some heart and resolve... exhausted by it all...
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« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2021, 10:26:36 AM »

I realize I was very fortunate to have an exceptional sponsor help me see my part in things. Honestly, I think that "recovery" is a growth process, not a destination. It's also not linear, but keeping at it makes progress. I also think the goals of different groups are based on the main focus and getting off an addictive substance is the first priority as being physically healthy is necessary for working on other aspects. So a sponsor's focus can be different.

I think it's important to distinguish self centeredness from self care and not being co-dependent. Selflesseness is not a good goal. To me the kind of self centeredness is acting out of fear and being inauthentic due to fear. Actually I think it's fear that drives a lot of co-dependent and also BPD behavior. I think both conditons can include being co-dependent and overly concerned about how others see us.

It's hard to stay firm on what is right and what is wrong if one adapts the emotional BPD feelings as a guidepost. I think the reason for many "wrongs" is also fear based. Calling your parents invokes fear or jealousy for your wife--- so it has to be wrong according to her. Giving in to her thinking that it's wrong validates the invalid fear that you will leave her if you talk to your parents.

You also avoid calling them out of fear of your wife's reaction. This helps to manage your fear. If you don't call, she won't be upset about it and call you names. The two of you are basically managing your fears with each other. This reinforces the pattern. If you don't call your parents, she doesn't have the fears about if you do. If you don't call your parents then you don't fear her reaction. But then you feel resentful.

If you decide to not let your fears of her reactions keep you from calling your parents- then you call them, then she reacts and you both have to deal with that. This is scary but it's also choosing to do something differently.




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« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2021, 01:10:21 PM »

I realize I was very fortunate to have an exceptional sponsor help me see my part in things. Honestly, I think that "recovery" is a growth process, not a destination. It's also not linear, but keeping at it makes progress. I also think the goals of different groups are based on the main focus and getting off an addictive substance is the first priority as being physically healthy is necessary for working on other aspects. So a sponsor's focus can be different.

I think it's important to distinguish self centeredness from self care and not being co-dependent. Selflesseness is not a good goal. To me the kind of self centeredness is acting out of fear and being inauthentic due to fear. Actually I think it's fear that drives a lot of co-dependent and also BPD behavior. I think both conditons can include being co-dependent and overly concerned about how others see us.

It's hard to stay firm on what is right and what is wrong if one adapts the emotional BPD feelings as a guidepost. I think the reason for many "wrongs" is also fear based. Calling your parents invokes fear or jealousy for your wife--- so it has to be wrong according to her. Giving in to her thinking that it's wrong validates the invalid fear that you will leave her if you talk to your parents.

You also avoid calling them out of fear of your wife's reaction. This helps to manage your fear. If you don't call, she won't be upset about it and call you names. The two of you are basically managing your fears with each other. This reinforces the pattern. If you don't call your parents, she doesn't have the fears about if you do. If you don't call your parents then you don't fear her reaction. But then you feel resentful.

If you decide to not let your fears of her reactions keep you from calling your parents- then you call them, then she reacts and you both have to deal with that. This is scary but it's also choosing to do something differently.






Thank you... This opens my eyes so much.

In the past, when things blew up when either my FOO was visiting us or we were visiting them, I talked to my family in a way that to me seemed completely normal and reasonable, given their confusion over the events. That is, i described in respectful and loving terms what I thought my pwBPD was going through as well as the part I'd played in the scenarios.

Over the years, this triggered intense reactions from my pwBPD. Basically I'd never keep anything hidden. When she would continuously ask me what I talked about with them, I would reveal all with honesty. I believe honesty is always for the best. I still do this today. This resulted in intense reactions; she felt betrayed, felt I revealed intimate things about her, made her look bad, etc.

Her general approach with everyone in her life is to present only good things about herself. My natural personality type as well as work on self development makes me quite different - much more open to everyone about my challenges in life. In essence my work has been about becoming less self revealing overall.

However, it's authentic for me to be open and honest in general as I feel people respect that and trust you more when they feel you aren't hiding anything. However for me pwBPD it brings up much fear. Over the years, therefore, I've come to feel very nervous about what I say about her, even with close male friends of mine. She says revealing anything is disrespectful and uncaring.

It's made any interactions with my FOO very tense as I know my pwPBD is monitoring everything and I'm very uncomfortable hiding the truth from her. I.e. If she asks me questions about conversations I have with anyone, I tend to be truthful and honest and she is checking if I betrayed her at all

I bring this up because it will happen that she asks continuously for every detail of what I discussed with my FOO when I will call them this week, probably tomorrow. I'll just focus on calling my parents for now and not my sisters.

I could avoid saying anything about my pwBPD and say only positive things. I'm happy to do this and even though its not always authentic, I was instructed by my therapist that I should do this. However the level of control is even such that I'm not permitted to share even that one of my sons was or is sick, what challenges theyre having at school, etc. Hence, it feels so unnatural and all i can really do is ask questions about my FOO life, so as not to spill out too many details. Of course, they have picked up on my unnaturalness over the years and my general level of anxiety and tension when my pwBPD is around

Honestly, my deepest desire is to explain, briefly, honestly and respectfully, to my FOO what I've been going through, that my partner most likely has high functioning BPD but is not diagnosed, and what this has meant for me, why I've lost touch, why all the nervous tension when my pwBPD is around, etc. I know that this will relieve my FOO of a lot of tension and sadness and confusion. Simultaneously I could also explain why this all happened to me ;due to the lack of boundaries in our home when I was growing up, the lack of emotional maturity, etc. I'm sure they would listen to this even if they don't want to think about it any further.

I'm open to any guidance about this. Is it best to follow the conversational rules set by my pwBPD with my FOO, is it best to be my natural self again and be warm, open and loving with them? They've basically lost who I was...

I've learned to be more strategic and mindful about my conversations in general and this is something I learned from my pwBPD. however, I've lost who I am with them because I'm boxed in so much by my pwBPDs desires

If I do reveal my pwBPD's issues to my FOO, what do i do when she asks me every detail about what was said? Is it OK to hide it? My OCD says it's wrong to lie in any way, and in general I think this is true.  Hence why I've always been so honest with my pwBPD even though it would trigger her intense rage for 'betraying her'.

It was only through Step 9 that I learned in some contexts things are not always so black and white i.e. in some cases its better not to make the amends directly as it may hurt someone


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« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2021, 02:28:44 PM »

I think it's best to go slow with this. Yes, step 9 tells you to consider whether or not your confession causes harm.

I would not think it's a good idea to call up your FOO out of the blue and get into this situation with them. First- just reconnect, and keep it light.

Disclosing personal issues about your wife risks triangulation. This is also not good for you as it creates an outlet for you and this takes away your motivation to face the situation. A family member or friend is going to become rescuer and take your side and try to make you feel better. That's a natural impulse for a family member or friend who cares about you.

However it is appropriate to share with a sponsor or therapist and that is confidential and you should not be sharing that info. Your wife can ask, but this is between you and the therapist/sponsor and they will "care " in a different way. They won't enable you and try to make you feel better - they will help you to see what you need to work on. It's not always comfortable and it can take some tough love. This is different from triangulation.

I surely understand the situation you are in. My BPD mother listened in on any phone calls with my father and read his emails. She was concerned we might speak about her in a negative way. She is at some level deeply ashamed and has a poor self image. We were not ever allowed to speak about her or her behavior to anyone and if she found out we did, we would be punished.

But it's not about betraying your wife- it's about boundaries. Your marital business is not anyone else's business. Your personal relationship with a sponsor or therapist is not anyone else's business. Best at this point (IMHO) to not discuss things with your family and friends that you would have to hide from your wife. It's unfortunate that she presses you for details and at some point you can have boundaries with that, but it's one step at a time. Don't try to do it all at once. One change first if you call your family:- call your family, keep it light, then you have nothing to hide when you tell her you called them.

Yes, your natural personality is to be open- but this has to be done with boundaries too and I think you are not quite clear on these yet. We have different boundaries with different situations- we don't discuss things at the workplace that we might discuss with a friend. That's not being inauthentic, it's using the correct boundary for the situation.
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« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2021, 03:27:40 PM »

I think it's best to go slow with this. Yes, step 9 tells you to consider whether or not your confession causes harm.

I would not think it's a good idea to call up your FOO out of the blue and get into this situation with them. First- just reconnect, and keep it light.

Disclosing personal issues about your wife risks triangulation. This is also not good for you as it creates an outlet for you and this takes away your motivation to face the situation. A family member or friend is going to become rescuer and take your side and try to make you feel better. That's a natural impulse for a family member or friend who cares about you.

However it is appropriate to share with a sponsor or therapist and that is confidential and you should not be sharing that info. Your wife can ask, but this is between you and the therapist/sponsor and they will "care " in a different way. They won't enable you and try to make you feel better - they will help you to see what you need to work on. It's not always comfortable and it can take some tough love. This is different from triangulation.

I surely understand the situation you are in. My BPD mother listened in on any phone calls with my father and read his emails. She was concerned we might speak about her in a negative way. She is at some level deeply ashamed and has a poor self image. We were not ever allowed to speak about her or her behavior to anyone and if she found out we did, we would be punished.

But it's not about betraying your wife- it's about boundaries. Your marital business is not anyone else's business. Your personal relationship with a sponsor or therapist is not anyone else's business. Best at this point (IMHO) to not discuss things with your family and friends that you would have to hide from your wife. It's unfortunate that she presses you for details and at some point you can have boundaries with that, but it's one step at a time. Don't try to do it all at once. One change first if you call your family:- call your family, keep it light, then you have nothing to hide when you tell her you called them.

Yes, your natural personality is to be open- but this has to be done with boundaries too and I think you are not quite clear on these yet. We have different boundaries with different situations- we don't discuss things at the workplace that we might discuss with a friend. That's not being inauthentic, it's using the correct boundary for the situation.

Thank you so so much.

I hear every word and take it on within myself.

Boundaries. This is so deep. I have so much self-development work to do, Step 3.

Your clarification about different boundaries for different situations is extremely deep, as well as the distinction between sharing things with a therapist and sponsor versus FOO. Yes, over the years, they have done the only thing their level of maturity allowed them to do - be protective over me. This of course was caretaking on their part - they didn't realise I've needed all of this in order to grow. They saw how my pwBPD treated me and even though I was honest several times with them regarding MY mistakes, and emphasised my mistakes so often, there has still been this subtle energetic judgment towards my pwBPD and protection towards me.

This enraged my pwBPD. She grew up with no maternal love, her mum dying at age 8 and her father, strict and rational, bringing up her and her sister. Her older sister unfortunately was also her father's favourite. My heart goes out to my pwBPD... The depth of her pain... She describes the moment when she received the news of her mothers death, and I cried for her. Yet she has no memory of her mother... And so I experience these two sides of myself, the one that is pained by her critical ego (this is getting easier to not take personally from realizing its not about me), and the one who infrequently sees her from the heart with compassion. So she was engaged how they treat "their little boy" and believed I am addicted to that... I didn't feel this way at all, at least consciously. For me it was a matter of knowing that if I don't contact them, they'd be upset.

My pwBPD is like an intuitive psychic radar. She picked up on all the intricate energies. I believe a lot of her insights have pushed me to grow. However, since she appears to have very little self-awareness, she believed she was 100% unfairly treated and felt ganged up against. Of course, she was unfairly treated in the sense of the inne child not understanding the mothers death as well as a highly stressful upbringing with her father. The story about my evil FOO has grown in her mind no matter what I said, and they became the target of her projections. She has similar projections about her own family, but doesn't see the fact that they relate to the same mental models /belief systems.

I'm grateful for you encouraging me to take this slowly. I'm grateful that I can describe the situation as I see it in an honest way, yet I'm still not capable of knowing what to do in these situations. Plus my anxiety and grief levels are generally high. It's been a sort of psychological landscape that has been very hard to navigate. With the right pharmaceutical medications things have become much easier, but as soon as my pwBPD goes into a certain region of intensity, my nervous system goes straight into fight flight and very soon after freeze - I get tired and just want to lay down in bed.
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« Reply #25 on: February 15, 2021, 06:18:59 AM »

Even if you had said nothing about your wife to your family, they would have seen there were issues. Although many pwBPD are able to pull it together in a more public situation, your family knows you, they would have seen something was going on. The tension between a wife with BPD and the family of the husband seems to be a frequent concern on the family posts, with the family of the husband being cut off due to the wife's wishes.

It's best to speak about such things to a therapist or sponsor because they are objective. A family member or friend isn't- they care about you. This isn't necesarily due to dysfunction. It's the relationship. I know you called it caretaking and enmeshment with your FOO. That may be the case, but also consider that some of that is also inherent in being a parent. If you felt your own kids were being mistreated, you would naturally want to protect them. A therapist/sponsor is objective and can see both parts in a relationship and is in a better position to facilitate growth, but we can have all these types of relationships- friend, parent, spouse, therapist and value them.

Venting to a friend or family member about your relationship is more likely to be prone to triangulation.

This tension between the BPD spouse and FOO isn't only with the family of origin but can be with adult children. Admittedly I took an  interest in these dynamics when my own BPD mother interfered with my father's relationship with me. In a common manner, all family members were expected to go along with upholding the illusion that all was normal and go along with her wishes. But the situation you describe with your wife- she also demanded of her children. I went along with it for a long time but eventually decided I could not. My father got ill in his later years and I took issue with how she was treating him. So I too found myself in this situation and realized just how strong this type of bond was between my parents.

Likely your parents think of your wife as the one who is wrong and you as a victim. Their natural tendencies as family members are to step in and try to help you. This is how I saw it too, but in this situation it is also stepping on to the Karpman triangle. The wife feels attacked by this and takes victim position. The spouse is expected to take on rescuer position against the offending family member.

This resolves the discomfort for both of them. Your wife doesn't feel threatened if you don't contact your family and you don't face her discomfort if you also don't contact them. But this solution is balanced by the loss of contact with your family. Humans continue a behavior as long as the benefit is higher than the cost. Really I think only you decide when the loss of contact with your family is enough to prompt you to risk the reaction it might invoke in your wife.

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« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2021, 05:28:44 PM »

Even if you had said nothing about your wife to your family, they would have seen there were issues. Although many pwBPD are able to pull it together in a more public situation, your family knows you, they would have seen something was going on. The tension between a wife with BPD and the family of the husband seems to be a frequent concern on the family posts, with the family of the husband being cut off due to the wife's wishes.

It's best to speak about such things to a therapist or sponsor because they are objective. A family member or friend isn't- they care about you. This isn't necesarily due to dysfunction. It's the relationship. I know you called it caretaking and enmeshment with your FOO. That may be the case, but also consider that some of that is also inherent in being a parent. If you felt your own kids were being mistreated, you would naturally want to protect them. A therapist/sponsor is objective and can see both parts in a relationship and is in a better position to facilitate growth, but we can have all these types of relationships- friend, parent, spouse, therapist and value them.

Venting to a friend or family member about your relationship is more likely to be prone to triangulation.

This tension between the BPD spouse and FOO isn't only with the family of origin but can be with adult children. Admittedly I took an  interest in these dynamics when my own BPD mother interfered with my father's relationship with me. In a common manner, all family members were expected to go along with upholding the illusion that all was normal and go along with her wishes. But the situation you describe with your wife- she also demanded of her children. I went along with it for a long time but eventually decided I could not. My father got ill in his later years and I took issue with how she was treating him. So I too found myself in this situation and realized just how strong this type of bond was between my parents.

Likely your parents think of your wife as the one who is wrong and you as a victim. Their natural tendencies as family members are to step in and try to help you. This is how I saw it too, but in this situation it is also stepping on to the Karpman triangle. The wife feels attacked by this and takes victim position. The spouse is expected to take on rescuer position against the offending family member.

This resolves the discomfort for both of them. Your wife doesn't feel threatened if you don't contact your family and you don't face her discomfort if you also don't contact them. But this solution is balanced by the loss of contact with your family. Humans continue a behavior as long as the benefit is higher than the cost. Really I think only you decide when the loss of contact with your family is enough to prompt you to risk the reaction it might invoke in your wife.



Thank you for your support. The insights you're sharing with me are extremely helpful. I feel more peaceful about the past as a result.

I haven't called them yet. I have one concern arising. An old therapist told me that there should always be mutual agreements with my pwBPD in everything. As the therapy progressed I felt increasingly upset about not being heard. This was confusing because the therapist had helped me for several months before (I actually met him at a 12 step meeting and he became a sponsor. On the professional level he provided counselling for men and couples therapy together with his wife. He was the one that recognised I might have ADHD).

But he didn't see that she has BPD. A few days ago I read this paragraph in The Essential Family Guide to BPD and it perfectly captured how I was feeling towards the end of the marriage counselling, which I had managed to get my pwBPD to come to by stating I would leave the house if she didn't at least give it a try for a few weeks :


Many people who have partners with BPD suggest couples therapy after they’ve been unsuccessful in convincing their partners to get help on their own. They usually hope that the therapist will back them up in the face of their partner’s unreasonable demands and irrational behavior. The borderline partner, of course, sees this as an opportunity to do the same in reverse. In the face of severe BPD, especially when the BP is unwilling to look at his contribution to marital difficulties, the value of couples therapy is limited. If the therapist doesn’t recognize this limitation— which is not unusual— the therapist may validate the BP’s misperceptions and drive a deeper wedge between the couple. Some therapists are aware of the BP’s deeper pathology; however, they may discourage the non- BP from bringing up sensitive issues out of fear that the BP may bolt. Non- BPs end up feeling invalidated, and therapy can actually make the situation worse. For this reason, if you do choose couples therapy for yourself and your partner, proceed with the utmost caution. Another problem with couples therapy, according to therapist James Holifield, is that many people only enter therapy when there’s a crisis and they’re forced to do something different. A good example is when one partner threatens to end the relationship unless the other person changes. A BP partner may agree to therapy, but then find an excuse to drop out once the immediate threat is over and the non- BP is hooked back into the relationship.


The reason I bring this up is because my pwBPD will say "we agreed you will align all decisions with me. You contacted your parents behind my back and we had this written in a contract. You broke an agreement!"

This is tricky because it's true I agreed to aligning everything with my pwBPD (note that she doesn't play by the same rules - she calls and answers her parents calls whenever she wishes). But I made the agreement because I was dedicated to the therapist that didn't see how trapped and controlled I was feeling, and seemed to think its just my inner child fussing. He believed all of my pwBPD's complaints and didn't seem to think it's an issue how I was feeling.

So I'm wondering how I might go about this when my pwBPD inevitably brings up the fact that we had my an agreement. Perhaps in this context I should align with her prior and let her know my plan to call them? The problem though is she won't agree to it and will condemn me for not caring for her feelings when I do it any way...
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« Reply #27 on: February 15, 2021, 06:04:46 PM »


Why not just tell her that you are not feeling good about the agreement and need to change it to something that is reciprocal?

Best,

FF

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« Reply #28 on: February 15, 2021, 08:46:59 PM »

Why not just tell her that you are not feeling good about the agreement and need to change it to something that is reciprocal?

Best,

FF



Exactly. The agreement didn't work for you and needs to be rez-negotiated.
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"...what's past is prologue; what to come,
In yours and my discharge."
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« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2021, 02:15:19 AM »

Oops, double-posted the same message
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