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Author Topic: Relationship with family of origin  (Read 1285 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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« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2021, 02:15:19 AM »

Oops, double-posted the same message
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« Reply #30 on: February 16, 2021, 02:16:39 AM »

Hi FF & GaGrl

Thank you for your messages. It clarified what I needed to do as I'm still confused about old agreements and escaping the control of my pwBPD.

I did it. We woke up feeling very good this morning. I took my son to school and on the way home contacted my pwBPD by phone. I encouraged her to call her father as the call b/w him and her was cut short over the weekend. After that, I lightly said I plan to call my parents...

As expected, it didn't go well. Progressively, the deep inner pain started to erupt. As the pain intensified over a 30 minute call, she became more and more manipulative, attempting to control me with rage, victimhood, bringing up the past, etc. It became out of control... I stayed calm. I tried to encourage her to see it as a light phone call in which I will focus on OUR family. She started saying what I should and shouldn't say - e.g. don't ask about your sisters, your mother is a master manipulator, etc. I re-stated that I don't want any restrictions made on the conversational flow, what I will say and won't say, etc. However, I agreed that I'll call via Skype on my mobile phone so that they don't yet have my mobile number (my pwBPD is scared that my FOO and I will start WhatsApping as we used to do).

Her energy was so, so, so intense. I could see my own grief being triggered but I was able to stay out of it overall. Right now, just after the call, I feel clear headed, which is great progress as it indicates I'm seeing her issues where they belong - in her.

My poor 2 year old son (my pwBPD is on maternity currently) was in the background; he was fine but of course, he's receiving all that negative energy in his consciousness.

I wonder if it is worth subjecting him to it... I faced my fear, but it triggered my pwBPD's rage and then he has to experience that. This is a big reason why I have become so submissive over the years - to keep as much of a peaceful atmosphere for the children because my pwBPD can't be responsible for her emotionality (feelings = facts, therefore she can act irresponsibly and feel justified for doing so).

Now I just see a message from myBPD saying "It's sad what you are capable of doing" ... she's trying to tell me now that I have trust issues, not her.

It's sad but also quite amazing, the level of projection. And under it is all the pain that she just doesn't want to face, so I can be compassionate. But I also feel a bit sad how much of a big deal this has to be.

She says that I haven't shared with her enough on what I've learned through reading my book on mother enmeshment. I've shared very deep and vulnerable things with her actually, but she always uses this as a way to get control. "You don't care! You don't invite me to talk with coffee!"

Here are some more messages:

"That is incredibly sad and prior to any phone calls you showed me how much you disrespect me. That is breaking my heart"

So, I was clear on the following things: 1) that I'll call my parents from Skype, 2) that my intention is to focus on OUR family and 3) that I won't accept any restrictions on what I can say and not say, because it's important she trusts my intention.

I think I'll go ahead and call them today.

It's a storm - and it's likely to continue. She's scared that I'm going to call them next week as well, so I should probably be very clear in advance so I'm not flustered when she tries to control that.

It's tough as I have so many responsibilities at work and at home, that we barely have time for this drama, but it unfolds any way.

More messages:
"I am still very shocked. Also from point of view of your work. How can you open up this topic in the middle of your work?"

.... open to any words of advice. I guess I need to avoid any form of caretaking - let her feel her pain and deal with it on her own. This has been my mistake in the past, trying to help her with her pain, and thereby getting drawn in and controlled.

"How come you want to give them call during your working hours?"

And these messages will be endless today... they will keep coming... I see how they're all for the purpose of control.

"This is such an irresponsibility step that doesn't show me to trust you"
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« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2021, 02:26:57 AM »

I replied to the barrage of messages with the following, and I think it's all I need to say/do, because I am recognizing that I can only be controlled by her and her manipulations if I believe that I am responsible for her feelings in any way. If I am responsible for her feelings, that would mean she is not an individual and I am not an individual. But I am, and she is too. Hence, as an individuated person it's OK for me to make my own choices and be clear about what they will be. The other person's response - even if she is my wife - is up to her. Is this correct thinking?

I wrote:

I care about you and love you. My intention is to call them via Skype today, and to focus on telling them all about our beautiful family.

She replied:

"Why it can't wait till some evening that we can have a chat????"


Question: should I wait and do things on her schedule (I'm certain that's what this is all about - control), or should I go ahead and call anyway?
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« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2021, 03:14:09 AM »

More messages from my pwBPD:

"It has been already ONE hour about the call" (my note: because it has become such a big deal for my pwBPD).

"It is crazy. I never ever want to listen about your hours not enough work. You are insane. How can you call me and say all that stuff and blame me for having little bit of a passionate voice????? I don't get it. My head is not getting it. You would show how much you trust me, how much you love me, how much you respect me, how much you feel for me, how much I cost in your eyes.... yo ushowed me that I am a big PLEASE READ in your eyes. Who deserves are your 3 mothers. Based on the phone call we are nowhere near of any future success"


(note: my pwBPD isn't a native speaker)

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« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2021, 03:15:36 AM »

Is it best just to ignore these messages? I feel trapped...

If I go ahead and call them without conversing more about it with my pwBPD (there's no real conversation at all, anyway... it's just about me eventually submitting in the end... that's her end goal... that's why she's so destructive... until I will crash and get so exhausted and follow her will) she will blame me for not caring about her, which is absolutely not true!
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« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2021, 05:22:41 AM »

I cringed a bit at the suggestion of your MC that you both should be in agreement. Not because it is wrong in general, but I think the heart of this kind of thing is that no two people can completely agree on everything and in this case, the process of working out a disagreement depends on the ability of both people to do this, to be able to tolerate the fact that no two people are alike and that autonomy and some self direction is a core aspect of their humanity. One agreement is that "I care about my spouse and want them to be who they are, not who I want to make them into".

Now, I think a marriage works when two people are in agreement about their basic values and goals, but it also requires the skills to work out disagreements and also to renegotiate agreements that don't work.

There are some big ones that I think require agreements- budget, children, sharing household tasks, work, where you live, values such as fidelity, honesty. It's not a each person do what they want situation, but I don't also think it requires complete enmeshement and with this situation- complete submission to the will of one spouse over the other.

I watched my parents do this. In order to keep the peace, my father eventually became an extension of my BPD mother and allowed her to have complete control. We kids were expected to submit as well. I thought this is what I had to do to keep the peace in relationships and did this too, and found myself to be very unhappy and resentful. That wasn't agreement. It was being a fake and being unhappy and resentful. It's not something I would ever want for a spouse but somehow this unbalance, this lack of reciprocity can happen. I don't think looking to a person with a personality disorder to give some sort of consent to you wanting to do something that is important to you will make that happen. Surely you don't want your wife to feel disrespected and unloved but by giving up your own self will, you feel disrespected and unloved.

People work out a marriage in different ways but yes, agreements over the big things are important. But some agreements are values. If a value is staying in touch with parents- that is a shared agreement but how and when to call them doesn't need to be micromanaged.

I don't think it's a bad thing to give in to preferences in order to arrive at an agreement in a marriage and we all do it a lot with things we don't feel strongly about. If I want chicken for dinner and he wants hamburgers, well I don't really care that much. We can have chicken tomorrow. I won't feel resentful. But when two people have poor boundaries contantly giving up what one person wants in order to appease the other can be an issue.

However, giving in to someone's will when it is a core value does matter. Not contacting your parents would be an easy agreement if it didn't bother you. But it does, and so it's not really an agreement on your part.








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« Reply #35 on: February 16, 2021, 05:46:58 AM »

I cringed a bit at the suggestion of your MC that you both should be in agreement. Not because it is wrong in general, but I think the heart of this kind of thing is that no two people can completely agree on everything and in this case, the process of working out a disagreement depends on the ability of both people to do this, to be able to tolerate the fact that no two people are alike and that autonomy and some self direction is a core aspect of their humanity. One agreement is that "I care about my spouse and want them to be who they are, not who I want to make them into".


I feel the same way... I've lost all autonomy. And "common decisions" with myBPD has basically become *her* decisions and my alignment with everything she wants. There's no space or room for my opinion. My MC encouraged this. He knew how hard it was to get her into the therapy room, and I guess his approach was designed to not trigger her to run away. He taught me empathetic and reflective listening but it never resulted in her feeling of satisfaction - of being heard. I guess he did this as I'd already established a relationship with him and he knew about my commitment to growth and the 12 Steps.


I haven't had time yet to read the rest of your message. I just feel the need to write quickly - it's a high pressure day coz pwBPD is crashing with lethargy because of her emotionality and rage. It's always the same pattern. The intense criticism and anger and rage blaming and control. I must take my son outside and I'm missing my working hours... all of this "crash" is her way of keeping control...

I'll read the rest of your message very soon.

I am avoiding any form of JADE in communicating with my pwBPD.
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« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2021, 06:24:37 AM »

Because of the constant blame and intense criticism, it's easy to start getting sucked in.

What form of communication, if any, is relevant when she is splitting and protecting?

Is it worth expressing my point of view at all?
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« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2021, 06:55:28 AM »

I'm jumping ahead in Stop Walking on Eggshells,in desperate need of communication skills!

This is amazing!


Maintain your own sense of reality despite what the other person says.

Reflect the pain back to its proper owner—the person with BPD.

Express confidence that your loved one can learn to cope with their own feelings.

Offer your support. Make it clear that your loved one is the only person who can control their feelings and reactions.

 Show by your actions that there are limits to the type of behavior that you will and will not accept.

 Communicate these limits clearly and act on them consistently.


I am feeling optimistic that I'll get to the point where I can call my parents even if my partner is experiencing all her emotional experience. The barrage of blame and criticism, the endless accusations, are so intense today. But I somehow feel that with these techniques I can escape the fog.

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« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2021, 07:57:49 AM »

Name calling, threats, and creating hell at home for the children. It's sad to see.
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« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2021, 08:28:08 AM »

I left the house to catch up with my work outside. It's the first time I've done this. It's because I see she is an individual and her feelings are her responsibility. I used to believe this, but I was not confident enough to remain loyal to my perspective in the past. Instead, I'd get trapped into caretaking and feeling responsible on a very subtle level for her feelings.

Leaving her alone with the kids. I trust her with the children, I see her heart for them. She is genuinely interested in their development, normally through the lens of the conditions I have - OCD/ADHD. She's genuinely interested in creating an environment where the likelihood of these manifestations is decreased. However, when she starts splitting, her whole ruleset and game changes; she doesn't see or hear the children's upset. However, if I'm out of the house, then her trigger is out of the house, so I guess it's more peaceful at home for the boys. Plus I get my work done.

Things have gotten as bad as they always get, if not a bit worse. She senses her loss of control. She attacked my sexual performance, told me that the house and car are HERS (her father bought them for her/us), and that the children have her surname. All this is true. I'm in a foreign country and I know little of the language. However, I must continue steadily toward the truth, and today has been a great leap. Ordinarily I would be in despair and grief due to her intensity... I'd be a sponge for her projections. Today, although it's not exactly pleasant, I'm much more level-headed.

I read a bit in the book that showed me how I need to communicate with her. It was so good to acknowledge her feelings, but very confidently and firmly state that her emotional reactions are her responsibility. She threatened to act out negative behavior. I said, that would be your choice. We need to learn to be individuals and see one another as individuals. Even in marriage, there are two individuals. She went into victimhood and attempted to manipulate me by saying I don't care about her. I told her certainly, that I recognize she doesn't see that I do, but I have a different opinion about how I feel.


For the first time, I took back my own power, and saw what is hers as hers. It got ugly. And it could get uglier, but it's a step forward.

At the very end, just as I was leaving the house, she said "so WHY do you tell me these things. KEEP YOUR LIFE TO YOURSELF. I don't want to know if you contact your parents or not."

Of course, beneath that statement is tremendous pain. It's basically her closing off her heart to me. I wouldn't put it past her to cheat with another man in the future... but who knows... it could turn out differently. It would be sad, but I know if she does that it's not my fault. Worse would be if she does it behind my back and hides it.

So I'm downstairs now, going to do some work, and call my FOO if the time feels right. I haven't been in this position for 8 years... since we first met.





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« Reply #40 on: February 16, 2021, 10:59:15 AM »


OK...I lightly skimmed the entire thread.

I cringed when I read that you "mentioned" you were going to call your parents.

It's not about your plans....it's about these "agreements". 

"Hey babe....I'm not feeling good about these agreements about contact with our families...it seems very lopsided"

or

Just call them...leave her out of it (for a while)


It appears to me that you were a matador...(unintentionally). 

You jumped in the ring and waved the red flag at the bull...and then are surprised that the bull is trying to gore you.

Ugggg...

Separate the issues of talking to your family and talking to your pwBPD about it.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #41 on: February 16, 2021, 11:24:10 AM »

OK...I lightly skimmed the entire thread.

I cringed when I read that you "mentioned" you were going to call your parents.

It's not about your plans....it's about these "agreements". 

"Hey babe....I'm not feeling good about these agreements about contact with our families...it seems very lopsided"

or

Just call them...leave her out of it (for a while)


It appears to me that you were a matador...(unintentionally). 

You jumped in the ring and waved the red flag at the bull...and then are surprised that the bull is trying to gore you.

Ugggg...

Separate the issues of talking to your family and talking to your pwBPD about it.

Best,

FF


Hi FF

Thanks. I suppose I've gotten to feel so guilty and controlled that this hasn't been a possible reality for me.

Now you mention it, I can do it.

Wow, I see that I've been programmed to believe this kind of action would be "wrong."  Even my old therapist advised me to align everything with her. But if he didn't recognise her BPD, I suppose he thought his advise was accurate...
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« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2021, 12:03:51 PM »


I have to give your old therapist the "benefit of the doubt" and assume that there was a massive miscommunication.

I simply can't imagine any therapist saying that one person in the relationship gets control over the other (what actually happened)


I can imagine that a therapist saying that you should align with your wife because that is your primary relationship and also you need to "re-align" with your other relationships so that they take there "new place".

That's very different than handing your wife control over other relationships.

How does this sound?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2021, 12:33:36 PM »

I have to give your old therapist the "benefit of the doubt" and assume that there was a massive miscommunication.

I simply can't imagine any therapist saying that one person in the relationship gets control over the other (what actually happened)


I can imagine that a therapist saying that you should align with your wife because that is your primary relationship and also you need to "re-align" with your other relationships so that they take there "new place".

That's very different than handing your wife control over other relationships.

How does this sound?

Best,

FF

Yeah, this is accurate. I fully agree. I'm sure this is where he was coming from.

On the emotional level though I feel confused.

However, it might be that the therapy didn't continue long enough and so we never got to the point of the therapist addressing the intense reactions from my pwBPD, whether I would express my opinion or thoughts. It felt "unfair." The general guidance was that I may have to be the one primarily listening for a long time until she experiences healing. But nothing about feeling controlled was addressed.

I'm reading the Stop walking on eggshells book and it's like reading a personal story, full of gold about how to go about escaping control. It's a big relief to receive all this expertise. None of this angle was addressed with the therapist.

I'm not feeling resentful. I just believed for many years that the people in my life helping me knew the solution to my problem. I see now this was my own black and white thinking. They have been tremendously supportive and have taught me a lot yet in relation to this relationship with my wife... Its only now that the answers are coming forward from the books and this forum.

I believe in karma and my personal understanding is that I've been undoing karma over the years in order to arrive at this point today
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« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2021, 05:06:17 PM »

Hello TD, having read your story, I am so sad and really feel for you in your predicament.  My brother's situation with his FOO is very similar to yours, his wife is uBPD and has systematically destroyed the bonds between him and us (our mother and myself, our father is deceased).  His wife's fear of abandonment stemming from her own childhood trauma has created so many dramas and scenes and ensured that he no longer regards his FOO with any real affection or love. Like you, he has all but given up trying to maintain normal family relationships and also his good friendships.  She has removed those who love him the most from his life. Her manipulation and control of him is phenomenal.  He is so afraid of her as are their children and he has told me on a rare occasion that he has to do whatever she demands so that he can keep his children in a safe place. 

The agony of losing my brother in this way is awful, but the pain of seeing him lose himself is even worse. Its hard to understand how a grown man can agree to sever the primal bond with his own family in order to keep his wife happy. I could not imagine doing that to my husband who loves and respects his family very much - I know he would not tolerate that for one minute.

However, truthdevotee you are in a much better situation as you are now aware of the BPD problem.  This knowledge will change the dynamic as you will no longer be blamed and shamed into taking responsibility for all of her issues.  Read and learn as much as you can, this will make you stronger and stronger. 

My brother is still in denial that his wife has a problem and he turns himself inside out to please and appease her
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« Reply #45 on: February 16, 2021, 05:25:54 PM »

Something to be aware of is that if you always try to soothe her when she’s upset, she will not have the opportunity to learn self soothing skills.

Like the distinction Notwendy made, there are choices in relationships where both partners need to be in agreement, such as fidelity, financial issues, childrearing, etc. Calling family members is NOT an issue that needs consensus. That is something that is personal and you DO NOT need her permission to do so.

I sense that you’ve been appeasing her for so long that you’d forgotten that you have rights as an individual.

How she copes with this information is up to her. It isn’t your responsibility to fix it for her. If you try to do that, she will never learn how to center herself and you will be further down the hole of appeasement.




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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 #46 on: February 16, 2021, 05:48:26 PM »

The agony of losing my brother in this way is awful, but the pain of seeing him lose himself is even worse. Its hard to understand how a grown man can agree to sever the primal bond with his own family in order to keep his wife happy. I could not imagine doing that to my husband who loves and respects his family very much - I know he would not tolerate that for one minute.



This one took me by surprise. I regarded my father as my only parent. I naively jumped on that Karpman triangle. He was in his elder years and it was difficult to see how my mother was treating him. This was before I understood the relationship dynamics.

BPD mom was angry at me, took victim perspective. My father "rescued" her. In her world one is either on her side or not her side. I was not on her side and became the persecutor in the triangle.

I continued to call my father, up until the time he passed away, but with her listening in on the home extension. Sometimes he would pick up the phone first and we'd talk for a few minutes, she'd pick up and he would hang up. She read every email I sent him.

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« Reply #47 on: February 17, 2021, 12:17:10 AM »

Hello TD, having read your story, I am so sad and really feel for you in your predicament.  My brother's situation with his FOO is very similar to yours, his wife is uBPD and has systematically destroyed the bonds between him and us (our mother and myself, our father is deceased).  His wife's fear of abandonment stemming from her own childhood trauma has created so many dramas and scenes and ensured that he no longer regards his FOO with any real affection or love. Like you, he has all but given up trying to maintain normal family relationships and also his good friendships.  She has removed those who love him the most from his life. Her manipulation and control of him is phenomenal.  He is so afraid of her as are their children and he has told me on a rare occasion that he has to do whatever she demands so that he can keep his children in a safe place.  

The agony of losing my brother in this way is awful, but the pain of seeing him lose himself is even worse. Its hard to understand how a grown man can agree to sever the primal bond with his own family in order to keep his wife happy. I could not imagine doing that to my husband who loves and respects his family very much - I know he would not tolerate that for one minute.

However, truthdevotee you are in a much better situation as you are now aware of the BPD problem.  This knowledge will change the dynamic as you will no longer be blamed and shamed into taking responsibility for all of her issues.  Read and learn as much as you can, this will make you stronger and stronger.  

My brother is still in denial that his wife has a problem and he turns himself inside out to please and appease her


Dear Four Winds

Thank you for reading this long thread, and for sharing. Your share helps me to see what is happening with more clarity. It's been a tremendously sad situation. I'm sure my sisters and mother (and father, but he's generally very private) have been in a lot of pain about this.

Some part of me desires to tell them what's been happening. The truth sets people free. Over the years, I have written emails to them, loving but firm, because my wife desired me to tell them how she has changed my life for the better. The emails have felt forced and I'm sure my family felt them to be that way. My wife wanted me to stand up to my FOO, as if they were doing something wrong by being warm and loving. I wrote things that didn't come from ME; they were written for my wife, as a way for me to try to prove to her that I love her and that I'm changing. All of this I did ultimately for the children... my goal has been a peaceful and loving home... now I see how there is no peace regardless, since anything can serve to trigger my wife's BPD. And so I've lost a lot of freedom and autonomy... but there's still a thread and a hope that is very thin and has gotten damaged due to my emails (never unloving emails, just written to glorify my pwBPD and tell my FOO to not treat me like a child in response to my wife's belief that I'm a mamas boy) and especially thin due to my lack of contact. But I think it's healable...

I'm certain they intuit her general control levels, but they might not know the story from my perspective. But my pwBPD always asks about every detail after any phone calls I have and I struggle to lie, so I always tell all. The only way to tell them this detail about my wife's BPD would be to do it secretly and not reveal it.

For now, I'll just take small steps - today I'll call my parents.

I realize also that this is a journey related to my FOO... I was never modelled a healthy emotional atmosphere, and I don't know my FOO from the perspective of an adult. I sense that as I'm changing in response to my pwBPD, I'm changing also in relation to my FOO. Since we are never in contact, I don't know how that will look yet... if there really will be / is a change or not... only time will tell. I just feel this urge to especially make contact more frequently with my parents; they're not getting younger and time might be short.

I am extremely grateful that the problem has been identified and I'm in this place and reading these books that provide the precise answer.
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« Reply #48 on: February 17, 2021, 12:21:07 AM »

Something to be aware of is that if you always try to soothe her when she’s upset, she will not have the opportunity to learn self soothing skills.

Like the distinction Notwendy made, there are choices in relationships where both partners need to be in agreement, such as fidelity, financial issues, childrearing, etc. Calling family members is NOT an issue that needs consensus. That is something that is personal and you DO NOT need her permission to do so.

I sense that you’ve been appeasing her for so long that you’d forgotten that you have rights as an individual.

How she copes with this information is up to her. It isn’t your responsibility to fix it for her. If you try to do that, she will never learn how to center herself and you will be further down the hole of appeasement.



Hi Cat Familiar,

Thank you... this is life changing. I'll follow the guidance. By absorbing all this information so quickly I can feel myself getting stronger and I can feel that invisible enmeshment falling away. I am an individual and she is an individual.
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« Reply #49 on: February 17, 2021, 05:30:24 AM »

In her world one is either on her side or not her side.

This is so true... this is my pwBPD's world. "who's side are you on!?!" has been one of her primary questions over the years.

I called my FOO - talked to my mum (dad was unavailable). It was a big step. I've regained power through this one action. I called during working hours. My pwBPD will later ask me if I called. And will come many questions about the content of the phone call. I'm open to any guidance about how to deal with the questions. My usual approach is just to answer honestly. Since my mum has recently been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (heart failure), we spoke a lot about her challenges; my pwBPD won't like this and it will likely trigger her rage.


I'm very very very happy to have made this step. My goal now is at least one call per week to my parents. Slowly also, picking up the phone and calling sisters... slowly regaining an individual life back. One of the longer term goals I have is using Skype video connecting my boys with their cousins. This is difficult because my pwBPD disallows it, unless she's on video too, which she rarely wants to be.

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« Reply #50 on: February 17, 2021, 05:32:08 AM »

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for your support, experience, strength and hope.

1 week ago I joined this forum and for the first time for at least 6 years, I made an independent decision without my pwBPD's permission. It is an extremely significant milestone in my life. It is a step forward to greater self-esteem and happiness, as well as being a role model for the boys.

Very grateful to you all
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« Reply #51 on: February 17, 2021, 06:57:56 AM »

truthdevotee well done, its a first step towards regaining some form of normality.  I suspect your FOO are more aware of your wife's issues than you think.  But what they will struggle to understand is your role in enabling her.  I knew from early on that my SIL was the problem, what I didnt get was how easily she was able to persuade my brother into believing her distorted version of reality and turning on his own FOO making us into the enemy.  Why FOOs end up being targeted like this seems to be a facet of this illness.  This heartbreaking situation happens in so many cases, you can see why BPD/NPD has been referred to as a "cookie cutter disease".  We are all playing a part in the same movie, just with different actors.
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« Reply #52 on: February 17, 2021, 07:51:03 AM »

One thing to consider is that- you don't have to disclose all details of a conversation you have with your family.

You are allowed to have a one on one relationship with another person. Now, marriage *IMHO has some restrictions/boundaries about that obviously, but you can have a discussion with a family member and have it be just between the two of you. There are work relationships where people discuss work related things. Some jobs, like medicine, require that work related information be kept confidential. A medical worker would not come home and discuss every detail about their patients with a spouse, a teacher doesn't disclose personal information about a student, a priest would not reveal confession discussions. There are lots of examples.

You and your wife are married but you are still two individual people. Your lives are conjoined in many ways. You have boundaries on outside relationships in terms of- you should not date anyone else or have private intimate relationships with others- but you can still love your parents and your siblings. Marriage doesn't negate that.

Don't validate what is not reasonable to you. What do you think is an appropriate response to learning that a spouse's mother is struggling with a health problem? I don't think rage would be your choice. However, I don't think hiding a medical issue in a parent is good as it is something you would want to be kept informed about.  If you don't feel you have the emotional strength to disclose the condition immediately, don't, but sooner or later, it's probably best to tell her. Her rage is hers to deal with. However, you don't need to disclose every detail of the conversation.

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« Reply #53 on: February 18, 2021, 05:33:07 AM »

truthdevotee well done, its a first step towards regaining some form of normality.  I suspect your FOO are more aware of your wife's issues than you think.  But what they will struggle to understand is your role in enabling her.  I knew from early on that my SIL was the problem, what I didnt get was how easily she was able to persuade my brother into believing her distorted version of reality and turning on his own FOO making us into the enemy.  Why FOOs end up being targeted like this seems to be a facet of this illness.  This heartbreaking situation happens in so many cases, you can see why BPD/NPD has been referred to as a "cookie cutter disease".  We are all playing a part in the same movie, just with different actors.

Hi Four Winds, thanks for your support.
It's amazing how it's a common pattern with FOO's.
I keep repeating it, but over and over again I have the same feeling - coming to this forum and realizing there is a label for these patterns and that my situation hasn't been unique is truly amazing.

For a long time I didn't know the problem. Having found it, all the perfect solutions are coming into place. It makes sense what Albert Einstein said:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”


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« Reply #54 on: February 18, 2021, 05:39:13 AM »

One thing to consider is that- you don't have to disclose all details of a conversation you have with your family.

You are allowed to have a one on one relationship with another person. Now, marriage *IMHO has some restrictions/boundaries about that obviously, but you can have a discussion with a family member and have it be just between the two of you. There are work relationships where people discuss work related things. Some jobs, like medicine, require that work related information be kept confidential. A medical worker would not come home and discuss every detail about their patients with a spouse, a teacher doesn't disclose personal information about a student, a priest would not reveal confession discussions. There are lots of examples.

You and your wife are married but you are still two individual people. Your lives are conjoined in many ways. You have boundaries on outside relationships in terms of- you should not date anyone else or have private intimate relationships with others- but you can still love your parents and your siblings. Marriage doesn't negate that.

Don't validate what is not reasonable to you. What do you think is an appropriate response to learning that a spouse's mother is struggling with a health problem? I don't think rage would be your choice. However, I don't think hiding a medical issue in a parent is good as it is something you would want to be kept informed about.  If you don't feel you have the emotional strength to disclose the condition immediately, don't, but sooner or later, it's probably best to tell her. Her rage is hers to deal with. However, you don't need to disclose every detail of the conversation.

Thanks Notwendy. I really appreciate the time you take to get into the shades of grey and intricacies for me. I think the primary issue - my black and white thinking - underlying fear and guilt that needed healing... as well as perhaps other factors that I'm not aware of... I think the primary issue has been my self-doubt about my own sense-making. I'm in my 30s now and only learning what self-confidence means. I've been so easily pushed around and unsure of how things are supposed to be, and I've also desired so deeply to always do the right thing. But that's the problem - the right thing defined by my pwBPD isn't the right thing...

Appreciate being in this safe place to learn what the real right thing is and to receive this guidance about how things are multi-factorial and shades of grey and how to navigate this marriage. I guess this is like an absence of natural left-brained thinking strength (ADHD / OCD relate to the development and struggle with executive functions). Bit by bit I can become more self-confident. Grateful for all the help

It's a relief to know that I don't have to reveal every single detail that I discuss with my FOO. Hope that my pwBPD won't push me endlessly for details.
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« Reply #55 on: February 18, 2021, 07:32:53 AM »

its quite possible that she will push you endlessly for information and details, but only if you allow this to happen.  I know its easier said than done, but once you start to appreciate you are a separate human being with your own individual personal thoughts and feelings - and that she does not own you as her co-dependent,  perhaps this can help you to stand your ground a bit more easily.

Coming to this site could be regarded as a reality check.  As close family members have been banished and are therefore not available to support you, maybe we, the members here are the next best thing.....
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« Reply #56 on: February 18, 2021, 07:55:37 AM »

She will likely do what she's accustomed to doing- which is to push you for details.

I agree with Four Winds- she does not own you. You can decide what to disclose. Your wife wasn't there. She doesn't know what was said or not said.
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« Reply #57 on: February 27, 2021, 02:14:14 AM »

OK... so it happened... it came up in conversation and I let my pwBDP know that I called my parents 3 times over the past 10 days. Explosion. I can see the deep grief, but it's hardened by the rageful exterior.

For about 10 minutes I fell into circular argumentation. Pointless endeavor. It seems the best thing to do now is limit all communication and ensure I remain with as little anxiety as possible, and help the children have a good day. I get really anxious around her rage. Need to do deep breathing.

And it's all the same stuff I've heard 10,000 times before; attacks for being enmeshed, blame for not discussing it with her beforehand, rage that "you didn't tell me" until after 10 days, making me a perpetrator and trying to make me feel regret that she thought I was on the right path but now I've "destroyed" everything, that I betrayed her, that I don't care about this family, etc.

At one point I reacted perhaps too strongly when setting a limit. I figure it's best to remain as calm and polite as possible when limit setting? She criticized me for not having handled a certain task yesterday, and I reacted with my own anger as the boundary came up. I reminded myself this is not about controlling her behavior but instead it's about simply calmly stating my own limits. The thing is, she will reflect 10x my tone, so if I remind her of a limit with anger, she resists the limit with 10x more anger. So it's much better for me to be extremely calm and quiet when reminding about a limit, and reminding the consequence (the action I will take) if the limit isn't respected. In response to my angry limit about not criticizing me about the task yesterday, she replied with "you *&%^." This also crossed my other limit about no name calling. I reminded her that I'll leave the house for a week if it happens again. But yeah, perhaps the "you *%&$" wouldn't have occurred if I'd reminded her of the first limit more gently.

I'm recording our conversations in case any evidence is needed in the future.




« Last Edit: February 27, 2021, 02:26:46 AM by truthdevotee » Logged
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« Reply #58 on: February 27, 2021, 02:47:53 AM »

I just left the house. The name calling continues. I'm so anxious. My boys are with her and I trust she'll look after them. The boys are disassociated through hyperactivity. I told them I'm going to buy them something nice from the shop.

So here's one thing I want to mention. Yesterday she told me that she told her mum that we can go to their house on the weekend. The honest reaction inside me was anger. The anger has two components. Firstly the history of this horrible situation with my own family despite over the years continuing to love and be open to her family caused anger in me. This came up as a deep unconscious response. Secondly a day or two before I expressed that it's genuinely not a good time this weekend as we have a lot to do in preparation for a vacation starting the following weekend. My anger didn't get out of hand and I quickly adjusted my response as I knew I don't want to create the same negative conditions that she created for me, towards her family of origin. She used the fact that she noticed my anger in that situation to control me and manipulate me a few minutes ago just before I left the house.

My main trouble is that I get so anxious around her when she is angry, so perhaps I'm just not leaving the house soon enough. My own anxiety effects my tone and makes it more likely to make a mistake. For example, when she brought up the situation with regard to the anger she saw in my reaction to the weekend visit to her family of origin, I said she's over exaggerating my response to that situation. There was a small lie in that because its true i was angry even though I don't express it so outwardly as she does. A minute later I went to her and admitted my anger in that situation. I think this might be OCD from my side (fear of being dishonest) but I felt more integrity after doing that. Of course it did nothing to effect my partner's BDP symptoms

Now I'm at a choice point. She changed my name on her phone to an insult name calling. I said I'll leave the house as I told her I would. So... I have to actually go through with it or not... She's sending tons of messages right now which I won't reply to

[27/02, 09:31] Honey: By your action of ignoring me you are setting the tone
[27/02, 09:34] Honey: I can see. It is a choice of acknowledging of someone perspective.
[27/02, 09:35] Honey: This is the highest principle of marriage
[27/02, 09:36] Honey: Remember if you ignore me I can't continue to respect you.
[27/02, 09:38] Honey: You set the tone of ignorance then don't expect to be respected.
[27/02, 09:39] Honey: I tried to save us from this.
[27/02, 09:40] Honey: We were on the right path.
[27/02, 09:42] Honey: It's broken
[27/02, 09:42] Honey: It's sad for the all effort made
[27/02, 09:43] Honey: I can't love you if you ignore me.
[27/02, 09:44] Honey: It's a big lesson
[27/02, 09:44] Honey: I can't marry you
[27/02, 09:48] Honey:
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« Reply #59 on: February 27, 2021, 02:48:30 AM »

Oops wrong button
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« Reply #60 on: February 27, 2021, 03:18:39 AM »

I'll read over all the advice and learning from this thread and others. Need to remind my brain in times of anxiety.
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« Reply #61 on: February 27, 2021, 03:32:18 AM »

Hey truthdevotee, sorry to hear you are having such a difficult weekend! Where are you now? I hope you are checked in somewhere comfortable with a glass of something cold by your side.
I know you worry about your boys. But truthfully, right now you need to nurse your OCD and anxiety. Or else you will be no good to anyone.
That your wife keeps texting is good, it means she is willing to communicate. You are right not to respond. When you are both calmer you may able to reach a point of reasonable discussion. For now stand your ground. You have done what you said you are going to do. She will get used to it with time.
You are absolutely right to refuse if you are not feeling the in laws next weekend. Better that you stand firm now  than that you suffer the seven plagues of hell next weekend. Is she able to go without you? Might give you both a much needed break.
Hang on in there. It  gets better. Setting and policing after years of weak and fuzzy boundaries is hard, but boundaries are nice things that make your life easier in the long run.
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« Reply #62 on: February 27, 2021, 03:51:52 AM »

Hey truthdevotee, sorry to hear you are having such a difficult weekend! Where are you now? I hope you are checked in somewhere comfortable with a glass of something cold by your side.


Hi khibomsis
Thanks for your loving message. It is healing for me to read.

I've been shopping and now I'm sitting in the car park. I bought some nice stuff for the boys. I told them I'm going to get them something nice.

Excerpt

I know you worry about your boys.


I do. That's why I feel it so hard to get away. I'm worried they will feel abandoned by me. I worry just a little bit that they won't be taken care of well, even though I trust overall that she won't hurt them. There's a part of her that tries to get at me through the children though.

Excerpt


But truthfully, right now you need to nurse your OCD and anxiety. Or else you will be no good to anyone.
That your wife keeps texting is good, it means she is willing to communicate. You are right not to respond. When you are both calmer you may able to reach a point of reasonable discussion.


It hasnt been possible with my pwBDP.

Excerpt
Is she able to go without you?


She's not... She won't do it...

Thanks so much for your message. It's good to have feedback I'm not doing the wrong thing. I have a guilty conscience.

I think I might book an Airbnb for the night. She is asking me now via text to come and get the boys and take them out. Maybe I should rent an Airbnb and take my shopping there.

I'll sit quietly for a few min and try to get to a strong decision whether to go to Airbnb somewhere or go back to the house. We have a holiday booked next weekend and due to new covid restrictions starting Monday we were supposed to be checking if we can leave tomorrow to the hotel, instead.
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« Reply #63 on: February 27, 2021, 04:38:53 AM »

I'll find an Airbnb and take the boys
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« Reply #64 on: February 27, 2021, 05:06:23 AM »

Dear truthdevotee, its so hard to manage this situation but you are finally putting two and two together and standing up for yourself.  Of course (...as they most always do), your PD partner was going to have a major fit, and her way to exert control over you is to terrify you and the children into submission. She knows exactly how you respond to her rages and that after threatening you and behaving like a screaming toddler you will eventually submit.  Either you do... or perhaps now you that you have grasped the situation...you do not!  Sending you courage and strength and resolve. 
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« Reply #65 on: February 27, 2021, 05:06:50 AM »

Sounds like a great idea! Take sometime off. Find some rest for your tired soul. Spoil the boys.  Others will be along who are better at this than I am, soon. I would say  stay calm but firm and be clear about when you will return - as soon as the name calling stops. People here advise not communicating about relationship stuff via text, keeping texting short and practical and leaving the rest for in person contact.
How do you feel now? Hope the anxiety is better!
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« Reply #66 on: February 27, 2021, 05:57:53 AM »

I'm so grateful for your presence.

I'm with the boys in the car. I packed the things we need. I still haven't booked anywhere.

I feel nervous but i can do this. I'll find a place to stay one night. I feel sad a bit about the children and the broken family. But their mum even said go for one week, she seemed to have no feelings about the situation for now.
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« Reply #67 on: February 27, 2021, 07:01:09 AM »

You are so welcome, truthdevotee. It can be overwhelming, I had the same feeling last week, I set a boundary and it was respected. I did not know what to do with that, since I was wholly unused to the feeling  Smiling (click to insert in post) I am sure you will find a place and settle in. Take care of you and the boys!
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« Reply #68 on: February 27, 2021, 09:07:40 AM »

truthdevotee, you have your precious boys safely with you and this has given you an opportunity for some space, self-care and time to calm down and think.  She probably never thought you would actually leave the house and maybe once she realises that this hasnt quite gone as she intended may change her tactics to attempt to get you back under her control.  Stay calm, safe and try to keep rational.  Sending as much positive thoughts to help you through this.  Do you have a friend/family member you can call for support?  Is there anyone close by?  Hoping that others on this site will be around to give you support soon. 
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« Reply #69 on: February 27, 2021, 11:36:42 AM »

truthdevotee, you have your precious boys safely with you and this has given you an opportunity for some space, self-care and time to calm down and think.  She probably never thought you would actually leave the house and maybe once she realises that this hasnt quite gone as she intended may change her tactics to attempt to get you back under her control.  Stay calm, safe and try to keep rational.  Sending as much positive thoughts to help you through this.  Do you have a friend/family member you can call for support?  Is there anyone close by?  Hoping that others on this site will be around to give you support soon. 

Thank you Four Winds, I really appreciate the support.

Both the hotel and the Airbnb I tried were closed for any visitors except for those on business trips, which requires some form of evidence from the employer. So I brought the children back home and immediately left the house for a couple of hours to get my head clear.

When I was taking the boys I felt like it was a great step forward, but I also felt sad for them as I was removing them from their stable atmosphere. The idea of a hotel/Airbnb was exciting and my eldest son was disappointed we couldn't stay anywhere, however, I still felt this sadness. I felt like they shouldn't be removed from their familiar-atmosphere - the four walls they are used to and the toys, books, etc. they are used to.

So I both made a step forward but may have also learned something today. I say "may" because I need further time for reflection. I'm now at home and my pwBDP is in her bed watching something on her phone. It's peaceful, at least. I'm also wearing headphones with peaceful music which I think I'll do more often, especially when she is acting out to the point where I should leave the house, but may not want to.

This situation has got me deeper thinking about the consequence of her rage and name calling. I wonder, although it is sad to leave my boys, if it is better for them to stay at home with their mother. The thing is, their mother doesn't feel much of a consequence when I leave with the boys... at least immediately... it appears like it might take a few days of me being out of the house for her to start feeling the consequence of not having me or her children around. So I'm wondering if ultimately me leaving with them to another home is good or bad, overall. There are so many other factors involved such as: 1) it's her home (in her ownership), 2) it's the boys familiar place with all their toys, 3) she doesn't feel the consequence of me leaving with them and all the support she gets; she doesn't feel what it would really be like if we co-parented and she would need to be 50% on her own with the boys, 4) the quality of their care drops when I'm not around, maybe not to negative levels necessarily but to mediocre levels, 5) the boys do love their mum and I see that although when she is splitting she is tremendously ignorant about how she creates a negative atmosphere, she does ultimately care for them and give them a lot of energy

I don't want to "use the children" unconsciously against her, so please anybody let me know if it sounds like this is what might be going on. I just felt that sadness leaving with the boys and the comfort of them being in their four walls. When I left on my own after bringing them home, I had real time to rest and recover from my wife's name calling and rage. I got to my 12 step meeting and talked to my sponsor for a long time. It was awesome.

When I came home in the early evening, I was at peace again. I decided I'll leave my headphones on with some gentle calming music in case she is still angry.

My biggest block to leaving her with the kids is the drop in quality of care. She knows about this and manipulates me with it and I believe deep down she cares for them "badly" (i.e. not immediately helping them when they're crying, not actively playing with them, etc.) as a way to get to me.

For example, the reason I came home in the early evening was after seeing her message:

"If you don't mind your son is crying by the door already half an hour. Enjoy yourself while he is in massive stress and his brother and me too"

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« Reply #70 on: February 27, 2021, 11:46:03 AM »

What if you frame leaving with the boys to go to a hotel as “our big adventure”?

It’s not a permanent change and they can enjoy learning about new environments.
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« Reply #71 on: February 27, 2021, 11:52:09 AM »

What if you frame leaving with the boys to go to a hotel as “our big adventure”?

It’s not a permanent change and they can enjoy learning about new environments.

This is true yeah.. I did this today and my 3 year old was sad it didn't work out in the end. He absolutely loved the hotel lobby where we hung out for a long time. The receptionist said I could go on Monday to see if possible to arrange an exception on the business trip thing, with management.

I cried on phone with sponsor when I described a deeper feeling of the boys being removed from their four walls. I don't know if this was truth about the boys or just an attachment within me that was expressing itself
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« Reply #72 on: February 27, 2021, 12:15:28 PM »

Be careful about projecting your own feelings on the boys.

You may see taking them out of the house as the beginning of possibly ending the intact family system. And perhaps that’s why you feel so strongly.

Kids are resilient and like to be exposed to new things.

And I speak from experience as a child of a BPD mother, it’s much more fun to be out of the house than experiencing a parent’s emotional meltdown, even if they aren’t acting it out around the children, kids still feel something unpleasant is going on and that can be frightening.
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« Reply #73 on: February 27, 2021, 12:24:30 PM »

Be careful about projecting your own feelings on the boys.

You may see taking them out of the house as the beginning of possibly ending the intact family system. And perhaps that’s why you feel so strongly.

Kids are resilient and like to be exposed to new things.

And I speak from experience as a child of a BPD mother, it’s much more fun to be out of the house than experiencing a parent’s emotional meltdown, even if they aren’t acting it out around the children, kids still feel something unpleasant is going on and that can be frightening.

Thanks a lot Cat Familiar.

Yeah, I thought it could just be my projection.

Your words here about "something unpleasant going on" is so so so true. I know it and I see it. The boys connect together when it's happening and they kind of seem to "disassociate" from it and end up in hyperactivity. This "looks like fun" but deeper down I feel it's an anxiety response.

Yeah... my projection of sadness about ending the "intact" family system... it's true... I've worked so hard over the years hoping it will all end up OK...

pwBDP continues the blame and criticism and I'm not getting involved. I'm really exhausted after the long day and just want space tonight. She's using this to manipulate me because she senses deep down I feel guilty about:

Excerpt
So here's one thing I want to mention. Yesterday she told me that she told her mum that we can go to their house on the weekend. The honest reaction inside me was anger. The anger has two components. Firstly the history of this horrible situation with my own family despite over the years continuing to love and be open to her family caused anger in me. This came up as a deep unconscious response. Secondly a day or two before I expressed that it's genuinely not a good time this weekend as we have a lot to do in preparation for a vacation starting the following weekend. My anger didn't get out of hand and I quickly adjusted my response as I knew I don't want to create the same negative conditions that she created for me, towards her family of origin. She used the fact that she noticed my anger in that situation to control me and manipulate me a few minutes ago just before I left the house.

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« Reply #74 on: February 27, 2021, 12:29:33 PM »

You see how one sided her concept of being around “family” is. You’ve paid a big price trying to appease her by cutting connection with your own family. Now that you’ve got a different perspective, your anger is arising. Nothing unhealthy about that. It’s up to you how to make this equitable in the future. She certainly isn’t going to be gracious about your family, and your boys and your parents have a right to a relationship.
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« Reply #75 on: February 27, 2021, 12:37:18 PM »

You see how one sided her concept of being around “family” is. You’ve paid a big price trying to appease her by cutting connection with your own family. Now that you’ve got a different perspective, your anger is arising. Nothing unhealthy about that. It’s up to you how to make this equitable in the future. She certainly isn’t going to be gracious about your family, and your boys and your parents have a right to a relationship.

Thank you. Listening to every word. Without the confidence of the forum I could never do this. Even now I am tipping my toes into self doubt, its like everything she says is designed to make me doubt that I'm actually selfish, self centered, creating the whole drama, not listening to her, etc. Yet I haven't been listened to for years! It's amazing that her ability to manipulate me is still so strong even though I'm aware that she has BDP. How does she do this? How come I am so prone to believe what she says? I guess I'm feeling weak tonight from the anxiety and stress
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« Reply #76 on: February 27, 2021, 12:37:26 PM »

I agree with Cat.

There were many times we went on outings with Dad.  We went out to eat, and did fun things like the zoo, the movies, the park. Mom always stayed behind.

Surely we didn't have much of an idea about what all these "Dad adventures" were at the time, but we loved doing fun things with Dad. I know now that he was probably trying to remove us and himself from one of BPD mom's rage attacks. And we did see them when we were home. We were too young to understand all that went on, but I  have good memories of fun adventures with Dad when I was a kid.

If we went somewhere and my mother was with us, it became about her and the focus was on her. Time with Dad alone was different, and we could have his attention. These were fun times for us as kids.

I agree with Cat to not project your own fears on to the boys when you go on "adventures". They may think it's exciting and fun, and they don't really understand all the dynamics about why.



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« Reply #77 on: February 27, 2021, 12:44:09 PM »

Thanks very much Notwendy, this reassures me a lot. I'll focus more strongly on making it an exciting adventure. I think my own grief got in the way of the power of that today
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« Reply #78 on: February 27, 2021, 12:46:11 PM »

I hope you have read about the extinction burst. This reaction- to escalate the rage- would be something to expect. Also intermittent reinforcment is powerful. If you truly want to continue being in contact with your family you need to hold your ground, otherwise she knows that this kind of behavior works to get you to stop.

Take a deep breath and look at the perceived "crime" ( calling your parents) and the reaction. I hope you see that even if someone is not happy about it, this is way out of bounds.  Of course it makes you anxious but hopefully you can hold your ground on this and let her calm down.
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« Reply #79 on: February 27, 2021, 01:48:18 PM »

Hi Notwendy

I'll hold my ground. Thanks for encouraging me. Yeah, I read about the extinction burst.

I got her attention a bit when I said that the courts would be involved and I'm sure if we go in the direction of separation she'll have to return to work after her maternity finishes this year. Our plan has been that she stays at home. Perhaps I was impulsive raising this but it's as if nothing is getting through to her.

She really seems to actually believe I've done something terrible by contacting my parents without telling her I would do so beforehand. I struggle to understand how there appears to be no inkling of self doubt or the desire to self reflect. She truly believes I'm disrespecting her, and believes that her rage is warranted and isn't a form of disrespect.

Yeah, I see that it's completely overboard now that you encouraged me to reflect on it. Thanks Notwendy
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« Reply #80 on: February 27, 2021, 03:27:05 PM »

I'm a bit stunned. She came to me about 2220 and I said honestly I can't talk. Then a few text messages were exchanged:

[27/02, 17:11] N: Just saw your message
[27/02, 22:14] Honey: It hurts when I ask you today third time to talk and you say no.
[27/02, 22:15] N: I'll be in much better shape tomorrow
[27/02, 22:15] N: I don't feel well now
[27/02, 22:15] N: It would only be making things worse. My ability to be supportive will be much greater tomorrow
[27/02, 22:16] Honey: It's fine
[27/02, 22:16] Honey: Tomorrow I will be somewhere in different stage
[27/02, 22:18] Honey: Did you talk to your parents today?
[27/02, 22:18] N: No
[27/02, 22:19] Honey: Or email them?
[27/02, 22:20] Honey: When was the last time when you were in touch with them?
[27/02, 22:21] Honey: I am sorry for my reaction
[27/02, 22:22] Honey: It hurts when you connect with them rather then with me
[27/02, 22:22] N: I understand. I love you
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« Reply #81 on: February 27, 2021, 03:42:50 PM »

.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2021, 03:54:46 PM by truthdevotee » Logged
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« Reply #82 on: February 27, 2021, 04:06:08 PM »

Looks like a bit of Openness occurred. I was bombarded by questions about what I spoke about with them, some of which I answered, but not all. I don't like being bombarded as it feels like I'm being questioned for a crime. So many questions, checking if i talked about her etc. I kept the boundary by not answering all. There was the similar blame but overall she was calmer. I shared my appreciation with her for the times she said "I feel" and revealed something more vulnerable than anger. She says that me telling her all the details build trust for her. I'm just flowing with it for now. At times the BDP blame and projection occurs and i step in with a reminder about my limits.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2021, 04:19:51 PM by truthdevotee » Logged
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« Reply #83 on: February 27, 2021, 04:45:46 PM »

looks like she is changing her tactics.  Her raging is not working as it usually does by getting you under her control so possibly now she is trying the "charm" method which is to disarm you by being more conciliatory. But underneath all of this is the motive to extract as much information from you as she can regarding you contacting your family so she can guilt trip you.  This information is important to her is so she can twist it around to gaslight you again by repeatedly telling you and that your family are bad for you and that your relationship with them is unhealthy etc etc......and that she is the good person in your life....

her goal is that she gets you to not speak to them again.  The more she senses that you are finding another way out of this mess, the more she will try to bring you back down under her control. 

Cutting you off from close family is a classic tactic.  My brother's wife would tell him that because they were in a "private marriage" she was the only person he was allowed to listen to. 
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« Reply #84 on: February 28, 2021, 12:08:04 AM »

looks like she is changing her tactics.  Her raging is not working as it usually does by getting you under her control so possibly now she is trying the "charm" method which is to disarm you by being more conciliatory. But underneath all of this is the motive to extract as much information from you as she can regarding you contacting your family so she can guilt trip you.  This information is important to her is so she can twist it around to gaslight you again by repeatedly telling you and that your family are bad for you and that your relationship with them is unhealthy etc etc......and that she is the good person in your life....

her goal is that she gets you to not speak to them again.  The more she senses that you are finding another way out of this mess, the more she will try to bring you back down under her control.  

Cutting you off from close family is a classic tactic.  My brother's wife would tell him that because they were in a "private marriage" she was the only person he was allowed to listen to.  

Thank you Four Winds. I see what is happening now, what you've said here is so so true... I was surprised at the "sorry" and encouraged by it, as I've rarely seen that before, especially in any circumstance regarding my FOO. But... the encouragement soon ended... As the conversation continued with her last night, I went to bed early as it was obvious when the tone started to change... it all ended up in the same blame, anger, criticism, manipulation, gaslighting, etc. Additionally, she found a book I read on mother enmeshment on my Kindle and now she's using the info from it to try to persuade me that I'm "the problem." I've read the book thoroughly enough to know that she's misreading / not understanding the information and using it to try to manipulate me.

I'm considering removing it from my Kindle. Of course this will bring up questions from her side e.g. "you're hiding it from me because you're scared, etc." but I'll think about the consequence of not removing it... I asked her in kind and clear terms not to play the therapist role toward me but she didn't listen. So perhaps removing it from Kindle is a good idea in order to discourage this.
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« Reply #85 on: February 28, 2021, 12:19:57 AM »

this sounds to me like she could be suspicious about what is behind your subtle change in behaviour towards her and is now playing detective looking for clues and checking up on what you might be reading, hope you are super careful that she cannot find your online threads here.....
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« Reply #86 on: February 28, 2021, 01:45:19 AM »

legalboxers, it may feel complicated in the moment but you are making progress. When one surmounts the gaslighting and is able to see the truth it is both liberating and scary at the same time.
Four Winds is absolutely right. You need to have passwords on your Kindle, laptop, etc, so that you can have some privacy to work through your issues. There is nothing to be gained by sharing this life of thought with her. Until you know what you think, you are not ready to share it with her. And she would need to be in a completely different emotional space to hear you.
I just want to add my voice to Notwendy's. As a child of an uNBPDmom, outings with Dad were rare but precious. Even just as a moment to gain relief from the chronic anxiety, but even more so as a chance to get his attention and communicate.  Plus of course the excitement of whatever we were doing Smiling (click to insert in post)  
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« Reply #87 on: February 28, 2021, 02:43:10 AM »

this sounds to me like she could be suspicious about what is behind your subtle change in behaviour towards her and is now playing detective looking for clues and checking up on what you might be reading, hope you are super careful that she cannot find your online threads here.....

Thanks Four Winds. Fortunately this forum is 100% secure. She has no clue that I'm here. It's crucial it stays this way, also because she's not open to self reflection that she's anything but perfectly normal

I'll keep this secure
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« Reply #88 on: February 28, 2021, 02:46:12 AM »

legalboxers, it may feel complicated in the moment but you are making progress. When one surmounts the gaslighting and is able to see the truth it is both liberating and scary at the same time.


Thanks so much for reassurance. Yeah this absolutely spot on my experience. It is quite scary. For two weeks I felt great freedom and understanding but now I'm feeling overwhelmed, sad, tired and feels like a scary phenomena


Excerpt

Four Winds is absolutely right. You need to have passwords on your Kindle, laptop, etc, so that you can have some privacy to work through your issues. There is nothing to be gained by sharing this life of thought with her. Until you know what you think, you are not ready to share it with her. And she would need to be in a completely different emotional space to hear you.


Thanks for your strength here... I have had guilt about hiding things from her. I haven't been careful enough with my kindle. I just deleted two books I was using for self reflection in the past, which she's been reading and quoting from the last couple of days. She noticed as she just messaged me :

[28/02, 09:05] Honey: I would like to buy a book  how to do it?
[28/02, 09:06] Honey: Adult children emotionally immature parents

She probably thinks she made an error deleting it. I'll see if I can get around avoiding this...

I'll be more careful with kindle now.

Excerpt

I just want to add my voice to Notwendy's. As a child of an uNBPDmom, outings with Dad were rare but precious. Even just as a moment to gain relief from the chronic anxiety, but even more so as a chance to get his attention and communicate.  Plus of course the excitement of whatever we were doing Smiling (click to insert in post)  

Thank you so much. I am so grateful for all of you supporting me. Thank you thank you thank you
« Last Edit: February 28, 2021, 02:51:42 AM by truthdevotee » Logged
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« Reply #89 on: February 28, 2021, 03:32:48 AM »

Argh... Terrible mistake. She was raging in front of children just now and she saw me switch on the video on my mobile for evidence. She kind of saw it, not fully but she noticed.

Perhaps this isn't a bad thing but I really didn't want that to happen. It was due to my anxiety not being careful enough.

Argh. I just stayed silent and didn't say yes I'm recording or no I'm not recording.

I'll use this for a positive thing, that's the only way forward. I'll just keep repeating no rage in front of the children.
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« Reply #90 on: February 28, 2021, 05:46:17 AM »

Argh... Terrible mistake. She was raging in front of children just now and she saw me switch on the video on my mobile for evidence. She kind of saw it, not fully but she noticed.

Perhaps this isn't a bad thing but I really didn't want that to happen. It was due to my anxiety not being careful enough.

Argh. I just stayed silent and didn't say yes I'm recording or no I'm not recording.

I'll use this for a positive thing, that's the only way forward. I'll just keep repeating no rage in front of the children.

I feel sad about the mistake with the video. However she's not 100% sure it happened. The benefit was she toned things down.

I see she has the potential for outright lying and false accusations towards me. She gave me the middle finger several times today.

I am getting the sense that an earlier than later departure to another flat is best for the kids. Things are getting to the point where i told my sons mummy is being naughty by shouting. She responded by saying something about me in her local language to him. It was sad to see him being in the middle. I cannot allow this pressure on his psyche.

The country is closing kindergartens tomorrow for 3 weeks. PwBDP refuses to look after them whilst I work home office, its too much stress for her.

I'm thinking now is the time, because I will suffer tremendously if we're in the same home AND I'm supposed to be working but getting nothing done. I might write to my boss about this and ask for approval for Airbnb for work purposes or just help and support.

To manage it with the boys AND work, I might spend money on a nanny.

This will allow me to work and also show the way things can go really quickly
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« Reply #91 on: February 28, 2021, 05:57:59 AM »

We are at a beautiful park now and the boys are having a great time. I feel much better than yesterday. I notice some lethargy in my older son but he's having fun on this adventure overall.

The only other option is for me to have time off and not work. Concerned about being in same four walls as pwBDP though
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« Reply #92 on: February 28, 2021, 08:17:12 AM »

truthdevotee, you are doing OK. Hope you find some time for selfcare in the midst of all of this.

Look, at the heart of the conflict between you and your wife is power. By what I understand, she is unable to go visit her family without your help. Therefore she has to control you. BPD is at its heart an attachment disorder. If she doesn't control you, she won't trust you to fill her needs.

Meanwhile you are trying to ration your energies to cope with the day to day and resolve some deepseated FOO issues that are now playing out in your marriage.
Do I have all of this right?
The reason why I raise it is because when there is real conflict of interest the tools can help reduce it but not remove it.
I would suggest not getting distracted by fluff (what she has read on Kindle, etc) but to focus on the real issue. Offer a bargain like "Honey, when you are ready to talk without middle finger, names, we can discuss a good time to visit your family".
In the meantime, indeed, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Explore options around finding alternative accommodation for the next few weeks. Either way, it looks to me as if you have only two choices: 1. Take off work while preschool is closed, or 2. Hire a nanny. It is up to you in what space you choose to exercise those options. But indeed you are, sadly, right.  I don't see you being able to get any work done while the kids are at home and wife is raging over a real issue that requires her to re-establish control over you.
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« Reply #93 on: February 28, 2021, 08:43:12 AM »

I made this same suggestion on another thread-

If you need to get work done, you need a physical boundary. It's not possible to control your wife's behavior or the kids wanting your attention. The only way to have time for work is to have a designated space and hours for it.

This is understandable- if you don't work the family will not have money for food, clothing, shelter. Emotionally they may want you around to pay attention to them, but what good is this if the family is without their basic material needs?

I mentioned how my father coped. Babysitters, pre-school, school. Fortunately my BPD mother prefered that. This is something to negotiate with your wife. The types of day care available now were not common when I was a child. Your younger one could go to day care or a sitter's house while th older on is in a preschool, and later a sitter. You will need to be creative and consider options. A sitter with a calm temperment is a positive thing for your children.

You need a work space. This is a bit trickier in a pandemic, but is there a space or room you can go/rent?
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« Reply #94 on: February 28, 2021, 08:55:42 AM »

A sitter with a calm temperament is a positive thing for your children.


Keep this in mind...massive point!!

Best,

FF
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« Reply #95 on: February 28, 2021, 09:43:32 AM »

Thank you all.

Forgive me if you're repeating things to me. I think due to being somewhat overwhelmed I'm not integrating learnings as I would do normally.

I will seek to establish a physical separate space today for my work. I'll ask my employer if there is any company-owned apartment space or if I can have a letter of approval affirming the need for Airbnb/Hotel accommodation for work purposes, which would allow me to book Airbnb/Hotel accommodation.

My pwBDP blames me for no emotional intimacy in the relationship. I'm able to be emotionally intimate and generally speaking I am with most people. My personal learning in the corporate world has actually been to not wear my heart on my sleeve so much. Kind of to become more rational and mindful about sharing certain things. But still my self-doubt comes up with my pwBDP. She says I'm incapable of emotional intimacy with her and this is the source of all of our problems. I'm worried it's true. Yet my experience is that I am never heard by her even though I make genuine attempts to listen, understand and reflect back my understanding of her feelings.
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« Reply #96 on: February 28, 2021, 09:46:01 AM »

I've wanted a nanny since my first son was born. Unfortunately my pwBDP doesn't allow anybody into "our" home (her father funded a lot of the house and I contributed only about 15%, yet all the rest of my money has been used over the years for everything else... Unfortunately the home ended up in my partner's and partner's father's ownership).

In order to benefit from a nanny I'll 100% need to rent an apartment. Looking into this now. My pwBDP just won't look after both the boys, so really this is my only choice. It feels wrong to go on sick leave for this, especially if I'd be stuck in the same four walls as pwBDP.
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« Reply #97 on: February 28, 2021, 10:57:41 AM »

The only way I know to help with these accusations is to realize that anyone can think whatever they want and say it. Having healthy boundaries allows us to filter this information and decide if it is really true or not.

If we really have hurt someone or been hurtful- then we can decide to make ammends.

If the accusation isn't true then we don't have to defend it. In fact, defending it might be validating it.

She can think you are emotionally unavailable but you know what is true for you and what isn't.

Unfortunately control can be a form of managing anxiety. If she can control you, she may feel less anxious. Controlling you might not be her #1 goal but if it serves to manage anxiety than it isn't something she would readily give up. However, you also can't manage her anxiety for her by allowing this control if it is detrimental to your well being. In general, we can't manage someone else's feelings, just our own.

When you change your behavior, this can increase anxiety on both your parts, so keep that in mind but also people can adjust to these changes if they are important to you.
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« Reply #98 on: February 28, 2021, 11:03:39 AM »

The only way I know to help with these accusations is to realize that anyone can think whatever they want and say it. Having healthy boundaries allows us to filter this information and decide if it is really true or not.

If we really have hurt someone or been hurtful- then we can decide to make ammends.

If the accusation isn't true then we don't have to defend it. In fact, defending it might be validating it.

She can think you are emotionally unavailable but you know what is true for you and what isn't.

Unfortunately control can be a form of managing anxiety. If she can control you, she may feel less anxious. Controlling you might not be her #1 goal but if it serves to manage anxiety than it isn't something she would readily give up. However, you also can't manage her anxiety for her by allowing this control if it is detrimental to your well being. In general, we can't manage someone else's feelings, just our own.

When you change your behavior, this can increase anxiety on both your parts, so keep that in mind but also people can adjust to these changes if they are important to you.

Thank you, thanks. You've mentioned this to me before. I remember now... Thank you. I'm now coming into that inner directed confidence in my sense of reality. Need to trust myself and HP.

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« Reply #99 on: February 28, 2021, 05:18:39 PM »


Having things repeated is a good thing.  Each time you learn and re-learn...you form "new healthy pathways".  It appears what you are saying is completely normal!!!

Do you have documentation of expenses and investment in the home?  If there is a split and divorce, I would think you could recover value, regardless of title of ownership.

Listen..sick leave might work for a time.  Don't take it off the table.  Even if on sick leave you can take kids other places.

Keep chasing the bottom line.  Calm atmosphere for you and children.  There are several ways to get there.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #100 on: March 01, 2021, 08:16:53 AM »

Having things repeated is a good thing.  Each time you learn and re-learn...you form "new healthy pathways".  It appears what you are saying is completely normal!!!


Thanks FF, that's a healing insight.

Excerpt

Do you have documentation of expenses and investment in the home?  If there is a split and divorce, I would think you could recover value, regardless of title of ownership..


I do have quite thorough documentation of expenses over the years. This is good to hear.

Excerpt

Listen..sick leave might work for a time.  Don't take it off the table.  Even if on sick leave you can take kids other places.

Keep chasing the bottom line.  Calm atmosphere for you and children.  There are several ways to get there.

Best,

FF

This struck me last night when I read it and has been in my mind since, not to take sick leave off the table. Thanks for mentioning that.

I got me and my son a covid test today. Still open what to do next 3 weeks depending on results. I have vacation days booked all next week but the place we planned to go closed due to heightened restrictions. PwBDP wants me to move the days to last week of the month when the restrictions may be loosened.

Need to get still and listen to my heart on this whole ordeal, or I'll be swayed unhealthily by her desires.
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« Reply #101 on: March 01, 2021, 02:54:09 PM »

truthdevotee, thanks for checking in! Indeed, be still for a while, it is another day and you are still alive and breathing. Actually sometimes resting and doing nothing is the best option. You will know what is best for you.
Hope everything goes fine with the test!
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« Reply #102 on: March 27, 2021, 02:15:13 AM »

It's been almost a month since I reached out to my parents for the first time.

Beforehand, I let my pwBPD that the "contract" in which I agreed to her approval whenever I wanted to contact my family of origin, was not right for me anymore, and that I would be contacting them. Although I'd tried to make this step for several weeks beforehand, it was only when coming to this forum that I obtained the strength, focus and conviction to actually do what is right... part of my problem was not knowing what was right, and not right. Last night, I found this workshop which has taught me the distinction between core values and shared values:

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=61684.0

pwBPD continues to go through strong mood swings, swinging every few hours back to the topic of my FOO and all the things I've done wrong. She says she doesn't mind that I have contact with them, she minds about the "way I did it." She feels I disrespected her by "breaking the contract" and by not gently discussing the change beforehand. I've validated her feelings about this and told her I'm sorry if I didn't do things in the perfect way... but the topic continues to arise, and it's personally confusing to me what the real issue is... I'm not sure if she knows either. She says she has major pain from this past month when I've ignored her (she really hates it when I walk away when name calling occurs).

I've been learning a lot of new skills over the past 6 weeks, and I'm re-calibrating to find a sweeter balance between boundary setting and validation. I've learned to walk away less, but only if I can remain in a state of neutrality and peace independent of my W's behavior. OMing internally and applying self-massage whilst she's talking (e.g. to head, ears, eyes, etc.) helps. Also avoiding direct eye contact helps a lot and looking at the very corner of her eyes helps a lot so it appears I'm with her but keeps me from absorbing too much negative energy. This enables me to still validate and support but not get pulled in. In general, I'm finding that walking away is to be used only in extreme circumstances as it feels abusive to her (even though she's completely unaware of her own consistent abusive behavior, even if I point it out to her)... it is also safer for my boys when I stay put... to help protect the boys from the negative energy I hold them in the peaceful space and ask Higher Power to hold them within the field of love that I intend to hold for us all.

I'm working through the tools on this forum and there's some good communication tools that I need to apply more consistently.


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« Reply #103 on: March 27, 2021, 05:12:45 PM »

Good progress.

When she continues to bring it up I would suggest some of the following lines and ideas.

"I've observed something that seems incredibly important to you....   So..you seem to be suggesting there is a way I could accomplish this that you would have been happy with?  Do I have this right?"

(don't move on until you get a yes or no here)  Very important because in the future if she tries to backtrack...stay curious about her change of mind (don't try to suggest or buy into that she was "wrong before")

Anyway..this is part of "handing it back to her".  Let her show you what the right path looks like.

Best,

FF

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« Reply #104 on: March 27, 2021, 09:22:37 PM »

Hello Truthdevotee, its going to be a hard road trying to convince her as she will continue to revert back to the default position which is to convince you that "..your FOO is bad, they are bad people and you must be punished mercilessly for disobeying her instructions NOT to talk them, ever again".  My brother's wife relentlessly accused him that he and his very bad FOO, were disrespecting her (when in fact the opposite was true) of not doing things the right way according to her specifications (whatever they were on the day, even though we all bent over backwards to accommodate her demands).  She then produced a long shopping list of grievances of all the things she perceived I had done wrong to her, stretching back more than 30 years. If I had to tell you what the list included you would laugh in amazement, it was that puzzling and confusing. 

So yes, it will be personally confusing to you as to what the real issue is, as it defies rational and logical behaviour.  Presumption here is that the real issue is to disrupt any of your further attempts to contact your family as total isolation from the people who love you and hold you dear is really her main goal.  She is not going to let up until she gets that contract out of you again.
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« Reply #105 on: March 28, 2021, 09:26:46 PM »


It is less important that you convince her....than it is that you convince yourself.

Once you have convinced yourself...the let your actions follow your convictions...and stop engaging with your wife on this subject.  Especially if she doesn't appear to want to be convinced.

It takes two to argue...so...if one of you is convinced that is an unproductive argument...it can be ended for you and the realtionship.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #106 on: March 29, 2021, 01:56:05 PM »

Thank you FF & Four Winds, for your guidance and direction... it means the world to me. Keeps me on track, and focused.
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« Reply #107 on: March 30, 2021, 02:47:34 AM »

Great to hear of your progress, TD. You've done a lot in only 6 weeks. Although of course the years of work in 12 step helped to prepare you for this

I also am learning to not get sucked in when my expwBPD dysregulates. I tell myself the key is for me not to get triggered, and chant under my breath, or put on calming music, or focus on how unhappy she looks. My mantra is mostly "you shall not have the power to trigger me".  It is hard because it is very easy for me to disassociate, so staying present but not in the mix is a balance that takes practice. The result is awesome, as I get better at this she is dysregulating less and less, and on her side learning to get ahold of herself in time. Much more peaceful all round.

Practice makes perfect. So I guess you could think of it as wonderful that your wife gives you so much opportunity to practice Smiling (click to insert in post)
 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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