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Skills we were never taught
98
A 3 Minute Lesson
on Ending Conflict
Communication Skills-
Don't Be Invalidating
Listen with Empathy -
A Powerful Life Skill
Setting Boundaries
and Setting Limits
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Author Topic: "You don't care about me"  (Read 784 times)
truthdevotee
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« on: February 16, 2021, 08:58:47 AM »

Hi all,
One of the most common things my pwBPD says to me when she's in a split state is "you don't care about me." "You don't love me."

What's the best way to reply to this statement? If I say I DO I DO I DO, then it isn't heard and I get frustrated.

Is the best thing just to acknowledge in the following way?

"I understand you're in pain because you feel I don't care about you. I assure you it's not true and I do care about you, but you have every right to your opinion" -- and then, when the inevitable resistance comes up, just be present without saying anything? (avoiding JADE)



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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2021, 06:10:11 PM »

Your second response is preferable to the first. If you assert that you do care, and you do love her, you are invalidating her feelings.

How about simply, “I’m sorry you think I don’t care.”
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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 #2 on: February 16, 2021, 06:32:21 PM »




"I am sorry you feel that way"
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matthew37

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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2021, 09:41:33 AM »

it's probably something on the order of "i hear you that you feel i dont care about you, can you tell me more about that?" then responsive listening, repeating as much as possible, until she's talked out. zero debates, zero defensiveness, zero explanations. just do the responsive thing as long as you both can.

fwiw there's literally zero point in trying to prove you do care. why you may ask? because, as i've finally woken up to understand, there is nothing you can actually do. "they" reinforce this idea to themselves, constantly. so in my home, me "caring" is stomaching letting her vent for 15m about some bizarre fantasy/nightmare version of reality. i dont mean to sound callous, its just something i deal with every 2-3 weeks, and i'm worn thin about it, and hopefully can pass along the experience before you are as worn out as i've gotten...

i'll often tread on "can you share with me something that *would* make you feel cared for?" as an area, but it can get dicey. sometimes it ends with her saying "i just need you to XYZ" (doesnt matter what she says, as XYZ won't actually do anything to make her feel differently, and you'll get even more frustrated by trying to do that exact thing). sometimes it ends with her saying she doesnt know (these are the moments i hope for, as i do see her get somewhat introspective at times, which can actually lead to her acknowledging her anger/frustrations, which i desperately/foolishly hope will get her to truly recognize her state of mind).

good luck!
(again, really dont mean to sound cynical/etc, i'm just frustrated and wish i had realized my wife's condition a few years ago when i had more energy to actually possibly make progress)
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2021, 08:06:06 PM »

I get that a lot too, so I'm probably not one for giving advice.  I would think "I'm sorry you feel that way/ feel like I don't care" is not going to help much.  It feels a bit like "Too bad you feel like that".  Like you're trying to shy away from any responsibilities.  Not that I'm saying you don't take responsibility; I'm just saying that my H would probably be even angrier if I said that.

My predicament is similar to matthew37.  I also believe there's nothing, NOTHING in your words that can prove you care.  The reason they're saying "you don't care" is because they feel that way.  It may or may not be based on actual actions.  Is it because you did something uncaring?  Maybe.  But more likely it's due to the pwBPD's black & white thinking.  So at that moment it doesn't matter how you can "prove" that you care, or list out things that you did that were caring.  None of that would register with the pwBPD.

I would also suggest asking them a question.  How about something like, "Was it something I did that causes you to feel like this?  Because I don't want to make you feel like I don't care.  Is there something I can do to help you feel more cared about?"

Now, their answer would probably be useless, and won't give any information on HOW you can actually do better.  Also, if they said "do xyz" and you do it, they'll probably be be happy for a while (if you're lucky), but you're prone to lapse at least once or twice and then they'll go back to "you don't care about me".  I believe asking the question is more for them to show that you are not defensive and have an interest in hearing them out.  Listening to somebody shows you care, right?  My H would say "I don't know. You think for yourself" a lot of times if I ask him that.  Or he'll say "You just aren't a loving person" or "you just don't care about others".  So I kind of know that it's not about WHAT I did.  It's about how he feels.  Absolutely no point in arguing that you DO care.  Just accept that she is feeling that way, and somewhat try to detach her emotion from your actions- they may be somewhat related, but I think pwBPDs' emotions go much, much deeper than that.  Your actions probably triggered something completely unrelated inside of her that you can't solve.
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2021, 09:23:58 PM »

I would also suggest asking them a question.  How about something like, "Was it something I did that causes you to feel like this?  Because I don't want to make you feel like I don't care.  Is there something I can do to help you feel more cared about?"

I agree with Chosen. This is another example of FEELINGS EQUAL FACTS. And if they feel uncared about or that you’re “uncaring” despite all your attempts to placate them, pacify them, satisfy them, jump through hoops, whatever...that’s just what they’re going to believe, despite you moving heaven and earth to prove otherwise.
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2021, 02:19:07 AM »

Excerpt
Is the best thing just to acknowledge in the following way?

"I understand you're in pain because you feel I don't care about you. I assure you it's not true and I do care about you, but you have every right to your opinion"

no. because this is a script, and she (anyone) will see right through it.

the important thing here is the context. youre not in a splitting episode, youre in a fight, with a person who feels to extreme degrees. and the way to "win" is not arguing the point; a large part of it is listening and understanding where the other person is coming from.

tell us more. when was the last time this happened? what led up to it?
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2021, 04:17:39 AM »

tell us more. when was the last time this happened? what led up to it?


Thanks all so much for your replies in this thread. Helpful to contemplate and be more prepared for the next time.

I can't remember when the last time was...  but it happens relatively frequently. As I'm learning the new skills from the Eggshells book and via this forum, I'm learning how not to escalate things, as well as how not to absorb her strong emotions like a sponge. I think as I exercise these new skills, she might still believe I don't care about her at times e.g. if I assert a boundary, it might appear to her that I don't care about her; if I take an action without her permission that in the past I would have asked her approval of it might appear I don't care about her, etc. My job is to not take it personally whilst ensuring consistent self-reflection on my own behavior and work with my sponsor.
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2021, 11:54:09 AM »

Good replies and advice here.  I deal with this several times a week.

First of all, it is very painful and invalidating TO YOU to hear this all the time, when you obviously do care.  IT DRAINS ME, and is very difficult to not take personally.  After years of hearing this, you start to believe that you are an uncaring, callous person.  You need to be able to step outside of this and talk to a T or other friends or family to help keep you grounded. 

As said, replying that you do care is invalidating.  That usually starts a JADE session, and makes the argument worse.  Hard to stop doing this, and at times I think I subconsciously invalidate simply to bring it all out quicker.  I learned that strategy from my dad.  He would know my mom was upset about something for days, and he would finally intentionally do something invalidating so that my mom would blow up, get angry, and return to baseline after a day or two. 

Doing more of what she asks to prove you care doesn't work.  It may solve things in the short term, but makes you feel crappy later when she comes at you again saying you don't care despite exhausting yourself.

Some of the other replies mentioned in this thread may work for awhile, but after dealing with this regularly the replies sound rehearsed, and pwBPD pick up on this and see it as more proof you don't care.  Definitely worth a shot, though.

The key for me is acceptance.  Accept that it happens, and will happen again.  Let her complain for 15 minutes, then try to gently steer the conversation to something productive. Then try and accept this has nothing to do with you, what you did, or what you didn't do.  Take all the crappy feelings you now have after having listened to this to your T, or practice some self care, take a walk, work out, etc.  I have come to accept that as long as I am in this r/s I am going to have to deal with this.  My goal is to deal with it every few weeks rather than a few times per week.

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truthdevotee
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2021, 01:38:20 PM »

Good replies and advice here.  I deal with this several times a week.

First of all, it is very painful and invalidating TO YOU to hear this all the time, when you obviously do care.  IT DRAINS ME, and is very difficult to not take personally.  After years of hearing this, you start to believe that you are an uncaring, callous person.  You need to be able to step outside of this and talk to a T or other friends or family to help keep you grounded. 

Thanks maxsterling. Thanks for understanding.

I think I'm going to seek out a local therapist/counsellor that understands BPD.

Excerpt
As said, replying that you do care is invalidating.  That usually starts a JADE session, and makes the argument worse.  Hard to stop doing this, and at times I think I subconsciously invalidate simply to bring it all out quicker. 

This regarding the subconscious is very interesting. I have sensed the same about myself. Normally those subconscious things blurt out when I'm tired after a day at work. I witness them occur and try to stop them as soon as I notice... usually by just admitting I'm exhausted and I need some space.

Excerpt
Doing more of what she asks to prove you care doesn't work.  It may solve things in the short term, but makes you feel crappy later when she comes at you again saying you don't care despite exhausting yourself.

Exactly maxsterling. I'm feeling rather exhausted tonight. I feel sad after I tried to share something in a "conversation" (as usual, the conversation was all about her) and she outright told me she isn't interested in what I'm saying. It upset me.

Excerpt
Some of the other replies mentioned in this thread may work for awhile, but after dealing with this regularly the replies sound rehearsed, and pwBPD pick up on this and see it as more proof you don't care.  Definitely worth a shot, though.

I agree, and I've noticed this in other scenarios. For example, if I feel like I don't genuinely want to understand, because I'm too tired to do so and I know she's not willing to be vulnerable, then it's best not to pretend I want to understand.

Excerpt
The key for me is acceptance.  Accept that it happens, and will happen again.  Let her complain for 15 minutes, then try to gently steer the conversation to something productive. Then try and accept this has nothing to do with you, what you did, or what you didn't do.  Take all the crappy feelings you now have after having listened to this to your T, or practice some self care, take a walk, work out, etc.  I have come to accept that as long as I am in this r/s I am going to have to deal with this.  My goal is to deal with it every few weeks rather than a few times per week.


wow...that's an eye opener for me... yeah... acceptance...
I dont' have much time for self-care... but I want it and as the boys get older I'm sure I can do more of it.
tonight I just don't feel like being around her, so I'm taking an early night to bed
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2021, 02:25:21 PM »

Most nights of the past few months I hope that my W falls asleep early and I get some alone time.  Main reason is I don't want to deal with her.  I don't want to deal with her issues, I don't want to deal with her criticisms, demands, etc. 

The other night she put the kids to bed.  I took a sleep aid and laid on the couch in front of the TV in hopes that I would fall asleep and she just go to bed and not bug me.  I am glad I did.
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truthdevotee
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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2021, 07:40:45 AM »

Most nights of the past few months I hope that my W falls asleep early and I get some alone time.  Main reason is I don't want to deal with her.  I don't want to deal with her issues, I don't want to deal with her criticisms, demands, etc. 

The other night she put the kids to bed.  I took a sleep aid and laid on the couch in front of the TV in hopes that I would fall asleep and she just go to bed and not bug me.  I am glad I did.

Great. I realized that this is self care to allow myself time to be by myself. To go to bed when I want to go to bed. To read a book rather than talk to my partner. This is a newfound freedom, to focus on my own needs.
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matthew37

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« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2021, 10:43:16 AM »

this is how I roll too. i'm up before she is so I can do a little workout (*something* for me!) then I outlast everyone so I can just have a couple of stress-free hours per day...

we should have the BPD partners' binge watching club. (jk, not making light of anything any of us are going through!)
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2021, 11:03:59 AM »

this is how I roll too. i'm up before she is so I can do a little workout (*something* for me!) then I outlast everyone so I can just have a couple of stress-free hours per day...

we should have the BPD partners' binge watching club. (jk, not making light of anything any of us are going through!)

I was thinking of making a "self care ideas for BPD partners list" knowing our challenges.  Example:  Offering to pick something up at the store, treating yourself to a special coffee or ice cream on the way, and taking the scenic route.
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« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2021, 11:58:35 AM »

I think there's an element of projection to this somehow. Her projecting her own feelings of self hate onto you might be stress relief for her. I am very much playing the amateur psychologist here so I could be 100% wrong...

But it could be an interesting path to research, dealing with others projecting their negative self feelings onto you.
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« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2021, 12:02:52 PM »

I think there's an element of projection to this somehow. Her projecting her own feelings of self hate onto you might be stress relief for her. I am very much playing the amateur psychologist here so I could be 100% wrong...


I think you are 100% right.  My W has occasionally stated as much:  "when I am saying bad stuff about you I am really talking about myself."  She describes it like a bottle being uncorked - days/weeks/years of negative self talk needs to be released.
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WWW
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2021, 07:06:52 AM »

no. because this is a script, and she (anyone) will see right through it.



Shorter is better..also let the "shock" or the "perplexed" feelings come through.

"Oh my goodness.....I'm so sorry you feel that way.  What on earth has happened?"

Then alter it a bit so it doesn't sound like a script.

"Oh babe...this must be hard.  Has something happened?"

Sometimes I get success  (relative) with..

"Oh my....can I reassure you?"  (and wait for answer) Then give a hug, quick massage to shoulders or...

Let's switch gears for a second.  Think about maxsterling's point about being draining.

Realize that these discussions can quickly go circular...look for a way to exit quickly.

Oh...and when they say yes to reassurance...it's rarely going to be your words that do it.

"Can I give you hug?"  "Want to go for a walk?"  "How about I make us coffee for a snuggle on the couch?"  those types of things.

Best,

FF



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truthdevotee
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« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2021, 03:20:10 PM »

this is how I roll too. i'm up before she is so I can do a little workout (*something* for me!) then I outlast everyone so I can just have a couple of stress-free hours per day...

we should have the BPD partners' binge watching club. (jk, not making light of anything any of us are going through!)

I was thinking of making a "self care ideas for BPD partners list" knowing our challenges.  Example:  Offering to pick something up at the store, treating yourself to a special coffee or ice cream on the way, and taking the scenic route.

Haha, I'm in!

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truthdevotee
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« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2021, 03:25:07 PM »

I think there's an element of projection to this somehow. Her projecting her own feelings of self hate onto you might be stress relief for her. I am very much playing the amateur psychologist here so I could be 100% wrong...

But it could be an interesting path to research, dealing with others projecting their negative self feelings onto you.

Thanks tvda. I agree about the stress relief. It's like a way for her to manage painful emotions by having me as a listener at the expense of my own needs. I am starting to see that I'm doing her and self a disservice by enabling it
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« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2021, 03:35:12 PM »


Shorter is better..also let the "shock" or the "perplexed" feelings come through.

"Oh my goodness.....I'm so sorry you feel that way.  What on earth has happened?"

Then alter it a bit so it doesn't sound like a script.

"Oh babe...this must be hard.  Has something happened?"

Sometimes I get success  (relative) with..

"Oh my....can I reassure you?"  (and wait for answer) Then give a hug, quick massage to shoulders or...



This thing about the shock and perplexed feeling responses is interesting. I'll report back when I have the opportunity to do this. Sounds along the same lines as light and breezy like you mentioned in the Other thread.

Excerpt


Let's switch gears for a second.  Think about maxsterling's point about being draining.

Realize that these discussions can quickly go circular...look for a way to exit quickly.

Oh...and when they say yes to reassurance...it's rarely going to be your words that do it.

"Can I give you hug?"  "Want to go for a walk?"  "How about I make us coffee for a snuggle on the couch?"  those types of things.

Best,

FF



Awesome, thank you for all these great points. Lots of new tools to juggle! It's so cool to be seeing the small steps of progress daily. I think I can forsee the potential to get out of my own heaviness eventually, which of course she responds to... Meaning I might eventually be able to truly inspire her to cooperate and to see us like a team. But I have to get to that feeling place myself first, ie. I need to exit my own heaviness by practicing the new tools and then hopefully start to experience a whole shift of attitude... But yeah this might be over thinking hahaha... I guess what I'm trying to say is once the self confidence feels consistent and normal, perhaps I can be more influential towards her in a positive way (ultimately, only if she's open to it)
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« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2021, 04:40:03 PM »


This thing about the shock and perplexed feeling responses is interesting. 

Many of us "thinkers" get so engrossed in rationally trying to figure out what to say..we end up sounding like computers....very uncaring...devoid of emotion.

So...we want to be in the moment and authentic.

Word of warning:  "of my..you are bat shizzer crazy" is an authentic feeling you should NOT share.

"Oh my...I have no words, let me think for a minute.." is something you can share...is likely to be authentic, since it is a "kissing cousin" to what you are really thinking/feeling.

 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Best,

FF
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« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2021, 03:58:29 PM »

Many of us "thinkers" get so engrossed in rationally trying to figure out what to say..we end up sounding like computers....very uncaring...devoid of emotion.

So...we want to be in the moment and authentic.


Thanks for this guidance. This is very insightful for me.

Excerpt

Word of warning:  "of my..you are bat shizzer crazy" is an authentic feeling you should NOT share.


Lol Smiling (click to insert in post)

Excerpt

"Oh my...I have no words, let me think for a minute.." is something you can share...is likely to be authentic, since it is a "kissing cousin" to what you are really thinking/feeling

Got it

Tonight I went to bed at 2245, made a strong effort to make her feel loved through physical touch, chatting, etc. She's having a particularly rough time today. Unfortunately she felt hurt by my departure to bed. For a couple minutes I got caught in the FOG and resulting circular discourse and trying to change her. Fortunately that didn't last long. I still felt guilty for going to bed because I totally understand the situation she's going through, which wouldn't be easy for anyone.. but I'm genuinely tired so I made the decision. Her last words when i tried to kiss her goodnight were 'don't do it, it doesn't feel good'
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« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2021, 05:19:58 PM »

W becomes resentful if I fall asleep quickly.

If it is past 10pm - logically I feel that it is her problem.  Much of the time she is mad because I did not sit to listen to her issue of the day.  My dad complained about the same from my mother.  He said that she would often keep him up for an hour or more complaining about this or that, always a bunch of stuff that was not serious or did not need to be resolved that night.  My dad said he would just listen and my mom would just vent and then go to sleep.  But his sleep suffered.  And my sleep suffers. 

If W wants to have a *productive* conversation at 11pm about something for the next morning - fine.  Sometimes we don't have a chance to discuss it earlier.  But conversations that are just complaints, or "do you think I have more gray hair than last year", I have to find a way to avoid those at bedtime.
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« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2021, 05:28:53 PM »

If it is past 10pm - logically I feel that it is her problem.  Much of the time she is mad because I did not sit to listen to her issue of the day.  My dad complained about the same from my mother.  He said that she would often keep him up for an hour or more complaining about this or that, always a bunch of stuff that was not serious or did not need to be resolved that night.  My dad said he would just listen and my mom would just vent and then go to sleep.  But his sleep suffered.  And my sleep suffers. 

If W wants to have a *productive* conversation at 11pm about something for the next morning - fine.  Sometimes we don't have a chance to discuss it earlier.  But conversations that are just complaints, or "do you think I have more gray hair than last year", I have to find a way to avoid those at bedtime.

OMG mine used to do this!! She'd just love to go on for what felt like hours about what i considered "potential issues" (ex: "what if in a few years my father needs 24/7 support") and I'd always just hear her out, or try to reassure her. One day i basically said as constructively as i could something like "hey, i love talking about this with you, but i find it hard to do this right before bed, can we keep these conversations happening but maybe move to daytime/evenings?".  She agreed, and miraculously - they mostly went away! I think for me, the combo of my sleeping issues (which she obv doesn't factor into anything, esp since she doesnt have any) plus approaching it in a way where i expressed continued interest might've done the trick. Anyhow, hope that's helpful!

As always, tread carefully and YMMV - good luck!!
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« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2021, 07:52:06 PM »

Hi all,
One of the most common things my pwBPD says to me when she's in a split state is "you don't care about me." "You don't love me."

What's the best way to reply to this statement? If I say I DO I DO I DO, then it isn't heard and I get frustrated.

Is the best thing just to acknowledge in the following way?

"I understand you're in pain because you feel I don't care about you. I assure you it's not true and I do care about you, but you have every right to your opinion" -- and then, when the inevitable resistance comes up, just be present without saying anything? (avoiding JADE)





Mine did the same thing; until she bailed on me. Next month is suppose to be 1 year since she and I met.. and the death anniversary of her mom
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MilfordGranger

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« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2021, 05:33:00 PM »

How do you break the cycle?  Right now I'm in a situation where my W, has gone to a hotel.  If I don't say anything I'm ignoring her and "can't even have a conversation with her."  If we do talk it quickly gets into the circular logic and me being blamed for not being there, "not having her back", not caring about her, not loving her, etc. 
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« Reply #26 on: February 25, 2021, 08:20:27 PM »

To break the cycle, I try to shorten the conversation. Nothing good ever comes from a long, extended discussion of feelings, and she won't remember the feelings anyway (she only knows what she's feeling right at the moment). So I try to say something like "I love you and care about you - I want you here with me - come home and we can talk. right now I gotta (take care of something) because (reasons)." and leave it at that. That's setting boundaries, giving her clear affection, and giving yourself time to take care of other responsibilities (surely you have something else that needs to be done). Don't let yourself stop living your own life. Doesn't she always come back when you least expect it anyway?
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MilfordGranger

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« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2021, 10:46:23 PM »

Well, I've never gotten to the point where she has actually left, until just recently.  She is at a hotel right now.  I'm really not sure what she is going to do, she is about as escalated as I have ever seen her and has been for what seems like almost a week now.
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« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2021, 07:02:16 AM »

To break the cycle, I try to shorten the conversation.


Short!!!    Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)  double and triple   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

I think of it this way.  When they "are that way" the more words you put on the table the more chances they have to "mishear" (anyone ever have that happen????) and then try to shot you with a twisted version of your own words.

There are times that you just can't think of what to say (and don't actually say this)....other than "Good grief you are the craziest person I have ever been around...."  (Reminder...don't say this..but lets be honest about our "internal monologue

So..try this on....deep breath and try to have a gentle...caring voice.  "Hey...this sounds important.  I want to listen and understand.."
 
(note...you don't see me arguing that you care..have feelings or whatever)  Have you ever gotten in a you don't care about me..yes I do..no you don't..yes I do circular discussion???

It is valid that whatever it is...is important.  It's also valid that listening and understanding is "on the table".

Best,

FF
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MilfordGranger

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« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2021, 09:14:21 AM »

This is exactly where I am with the circular conversation.  I find when I try and say lets talk about this or "I understand", it's usually met with "I've been telling you this for years" or "I shouldn't have to tell you what to do to help."  or similar statements.  I feel like even when I acknowledge it, it spirals right back to the circular logic and of course if I simply say I'm sorry (or something similar) and leave (even if I say I need a time-out, it's "oh you need a break, I have to deal with everyone's pain") then it becomes, that I just walk away and "ignore her."  She's been in this most recent "flare" for at least a week (really hyped) and probably more like two weeks including the ramping up.

That's part of why I'm sure there is more at play than just BPD, but it just hits you with overwhelming guilt and wondering if maybe I haven't been there or supportive.
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