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Author Topic: "Coming Out" to my BPD Mom  (Read 147 times)
teambean12

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« on: February 22, 2021, 01:48:40 PM »

Hi group, this is my first post. I'm very excited to have found this group.

My background story:
I'm a 28 year old woman who is getting ready to graduate medical school in 3 months. I have been very fortunate to have had parents who have supported me financially throughout my education, covering my tuition and living expenses from college throughout med school. I felt so appreciative of what they have done for me, I ended up enabling my mother's BPD in an effort to preserve our relationship and keep my financial situation secure until I have a means to support myself. My mom has never formally been diagnosed with BPD, but shows the typical signs and symptoms. She has an intense fear of abandonment, splits between all good and bad, and is nearly impossible to reason with during a disagreement. She insists on traveling to where I live to reside in my apartment for weeks at a time because "she pays for it", has constant access to my whereabouts and social media accounts, and tries to make me feel guilty for not "being as close to her as I was as a little girl".

Almost three years ago, I told my mom that I had started seeing a guy that I really cared about. He is successful in his career, incredibly smart and funny, and has treated me better than anyone I have ever dated. Instead of my mom agreeing to meet him, she started researching his Facebook page. She told me that he would just be "out for my money once I became a doctor", that he "only wants to party" because he was tagged in a wedding photo holding a beer, and that he was "not good enough" because he did not have a graduate level degree, only a college one (mind you, she does not have a college degree and my father is a doctor). When I tried to stand up to her and explain that she was being unreasonable and that he was a wonderful person, she nearly went off the deep end. She cut off my credit cards, told me she would take my car and refuse to pay for tuition and rent, called him at 3 AM to threaten him to leave me alone, and called the phone company to have his number blocked from my phone. I told her I would take out loans and finance myself at this point, to which she responded that if I did then I would "no longer be her daughter and she would make sure that she would find a way to ruin my career and get me kicked out of school." I became really depressed after this and told my parents I was suicidal. My mom responded "go ahead and do it, you'll just burn in hell". Like most kids with a borderline parent, everyone has been conditioned to bow down to my mom (including my dad), and avoid conflict just to keep a bit of peace. So I went back to telling my mom we were no longer together and things went back to "normal".

Fast forward to today, I have been dating my boyfriend in secret for the last 3 years. He has put up with sneaking around to see me, taken me to see a therapist, and bought me tons of books and resources about BPD. He has truly gone above and beyond to try to support me in whatever way I needed, and has been patient with me. Our plan was always to try coming back out to my mom after I find out where I will be matching for residency, which is now less than a month away. I fear retaliation from my mother and know she will take the news horribly. His parents are coming down to be an extra support system the weekend that I plan to tell my family that we are still together and intend to start a life together.

I'm wrestling with guilt and fear, as well as hopeful anticipation that maybe this will be the first step to moving towards a more normal life. My mom has said and done many manipulative and hurtful things, but I also still love her and am hopeful we are able to have a more healthy relationship in the future.

I'd appreciate any advice, thank you!
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GaGrl
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 02:20:56 PM »

We are so glad you are here. A number of members have a BPD parent and can certainly provide info and support to you.

The previous situation sounds like it was high drama. Can you say more about where your dad stands in all this? Would be have agreed with your mother withholding all tuition and living support?

Do you think your mother expects you to stay single forever?
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"...what's past is prologue; what to come,
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teambean12

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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 02:49:01 PM »

Thank you for the warm welcome!
My father is very conflict averse. He has let her have her way for as long as I can remember. As a child I remember my mom always pulling the divorce card to get what she wanted. During the initial attempt to tell them, he was emotionally distant and basically let her say whatever she wanted to me. He didn't stand up for me, which hurt. He told me "when you're financially independent you can do what you want".

I'm sure she doesn't want me to be single forever (pressures me to give her grandkids?), but she wants to essentially hand pick my husband. She has tried to talk me into dating one of my classmates who I am good friends with, simply because she thinks he will have a high income and I can "do whatever I want and he would agree with me". I don't think my choice in significant other is necessarily the issue (she has just blown it up to make it seem like she's protecting me from a bad match), but rather her thinking that a confident and emotionally healthy partner will be able to call out her emotional abuse. I think fear of abandonment is the driving force behind it all. Despite my reassurances that I will always be her daughter and love her, if the relationship isn't 100% how she wants it, she shuts everything down...
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Sunflower45

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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2021, 03:06:00 PM »

Hi Teambean,

It seems to be fairly common for a BPD parent to react badly to an adult child’s new serious relationship. I suspect that this is a threat to their view that their child is just an appendage of themselves, rather than an independent adult. And I agree that fear of abandonment weighs in as well. My own BPD mother told me she couldn’t adjust to the idea that I was a grownup getting married, and I was 41 when I got married!

I would encourage you to keep your expectations low of how your mother will take the news. I’m glad to hear you are lining up support for that.

I also encourage you to do everything you can to become fully financially independent of your parents. My BPD mother was masterful in using gifts and money in manipulative and punitive ways. The financial costs of independence were far outweighed by the emotional health benefits for me.

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Notwendy
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2021, 05:48:47 AM »

For me, the key to independence was becoming financially independent of my parents. I also had a father ( now deceased) who pretty much gave in to what my BPD mother wanted and so she controlled any money I might have for tuition and expenses when I was in school and as long as she had some control over that, she also had some control over me. I didn't want to not be in contact with my parents, I just wanted to be financially independent so I didn't have to deal with that.

I guess I was fortunate in that she didn't control my choice of partners but there were other things.

You have had a prolonged education and this extended your financial connections to your parents. However, this is about to change some as you will be able to meet your basic expenses and also not have to ask for tuition.

You say his parents are coming down?

One consideration is timing. For my BPD mom, large events- like holidays and graduations- were times where she was more likely to act out, due to the stresses ( even good events like graduations are stresses). Would it be better to tell her at another time so it isn't as possibly dramatic?

Sometimes it is better to deal with one thing at a time. Finding out where you do your residency is one big event and graduation is another one. Would it be better to deal with one announcement at a time?

Is your boyfriend planning to come with you to your residency or will the two of you deal with any distance once you know?

I am thinking it might be better for the two of you to figure out what you are doing, where you will be living, and then anounce the plans to your mother. It might even be better to wait until you are finished with school so she has less of your plans/finances to disrupt, and perhaps avoid a scene at graduation.





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teambean12

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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2021, 10:58:31 AM »

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and help, I really appreciate it.

Match weekend will be held in a virtual format this year (thankfully) so if she causes a scene it would be at home. I originally wanted to wait until after I graduated, but I think that in light of me needing to find a place to live on my own it will have to be prior to when I graduate. The plan is to stay local for residency, but in the event I match somewhere else my boyfriend plans to go with me.

Things are further complicated by my older brother, who has autism. He is currently having his own personal issues that are causing my parents to relocate. I think I have to be honest with them about my own plans so that they don't factor me in during their house buying process.

I think what I'm struggling with currently are finding the words of how to explain things to her in the least confrontational way but setting firm boundaries. I know she is going to fixate on the fact that I lied to her, but I honestly felt I had no choice..
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GaGrl
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2021, 11:14:28 AM »

Is it necessary to tell her you've been "lying" to your mother? Could you simply say, "I'm seeing Boyfriend, and it is a serious relationship."

My stepdaughter's key with her uBPD/NPD mother was financial independence. Up to that point, her mom "gave" her $$$ and gifts with not just strings, but chains.
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"...what's past is prologue; what to come,
In yours and my discharge."
teambean12

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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2021, 12:15:51 PM »

Well I don't plan to say I lied outright, but I know that will be the first thing out of her mouth. She "values honesty above all else", despite shooting me down when I tried to tell her the truth.

The last 3 years have been a major undertaking. I have to communicate with my bf on WhatsApp so that his number won't show up on the phone bill. I have to call and check in with my mother every few hours otherwise she will FaceTime me and demand to know where I am and who I'm with. She will stay at my apartment (away from my dad/ brother/ her mother) for weeks at a time to "keep an eye on me". There isn't really a way for me to play it off as me not deliberately and intentionally hiding this from the family. Despite literally every odd being stacked against us, our relationship is stronger than ever.

I accept that all finances will be cut off from her end, which I am fine with. I am able to start getting paid in June, and think I have enough savings to get me by until then. It's scary to think about losing my family and starting out with literally nothing (especially when my mom has always showered me with the best of material things in order to maintain control over me), but I know I have to try to move forward with my life. Your comment about the $$ coming with chains is so accurate.
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Sunflower45

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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2021, 03:13:56 PM »

Teambean, are you considering setting any boundaries around frequency of contact and consequences for behaviors like what she has shown to your boyfriend in the past? I fear she will do her best to interfere in your relationship, if not try to sabotage it. When you tell her about your relationship, you can also lay out what you will and will not tolerate.
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Sunflower45

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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2021, 03:18:05 PM »

One more question - what will you do if she crosses the line in reacting to your news? In my experience, explaining and defending myself to a BPD parent is futile. Walking away/ending the conversation has been most effective for me.
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zachira
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2021, 04:21:01 PM »

My heart goes out to you having a BPD mom that makes life extremely difficult for you. You are one of many members on this site who have similar problems with a BPD mom that acts badly when their adult child does anything that indicates he/she is an independent separate person from the parent with BPD, viewing the grown child's independence as abandonment. My mother with BPD died in 2019, and she did not want any of her children to ever get married, and did terrible things to the partners/spouse of her children. I think the most important thing is timing and to limit the information you provide your mother, as the more you tell her, the more upset and vengeful she will be. I would certainly wait until you have started your residency, and only tell her about your boyfriend when you need to. Your mother does not need to know how long you have been dating, how serious the relationship is unless you are living together or getting married. My experience is less contact and less information are best. I think it is natural to want to share who you are with your mother and with a mother with BPD, being extremely cautious about what you share because of the reaction it will produce will likely make things easier in the long run, though disappointing as you would certainly like to have a mother who could share in your happiness and joy.
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GaGrl
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2021, 04:28:55 PM »

With your residency, you also will need boundaries on how often you call/FaceTime your mother, as well as how often she visits, how long she stays when she visits, waiting for an invitation before she visits, etc.

You may not have an accurate sense of how completely she violates your personal needs. She really is abusive to insist on this level of interference in your personal life.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2021, 05:38:35 PM »

My situation has been different as my BPD mother controlled any money my father might have given me towards schooling and I began paying as much of that as I could from the get go. They helped me some but I could not rely completely on them. I had loans to get by.

So my mother thankfully had no say in where I lived or who I lived with. Your mother is truly stepping over boundaries if she's staying with you to keep an eye on you. You have been subjected to this family enmeshment for a while and gone along with it to keep the peace.

I still think doing this in steps will help as you will find out where you will be for residency soon and then you will know where you will live. Once you know that, you can proceed to set boundaries. For one, you will be busier than ever and spending a lot of time at the hospital. You will not be available to answer phone calls much of the time. This is an inevitable result of your work schedule but the benefit is that it might also facilitate boundaries with her.

You are a grown woman and soon to be a doctor. You can choose your own romantic partner. I know it's scary but at the right time, a simple, "Mom and Dad, I am seeing Boyfriend and we wish to continue to see each other" and that's it, don't JADE, explain, and let her have a fit.

Get your own phone- really. You also would need it for work when answering calls from the hospital.

Yes, it's scary when they have helped so much.
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teambean12

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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2021, 10:54:43 AM »

Thanks all for the support, it really means a lot to hear validation that my situation isn't "normal".

As much as I'd love to push off the inevitable of telling her we are together, I think my boyfriend is beyond ready to "come out of the closet". He is really excited about buying a home together and we plan to get married (we would have already been engaged but I told him I didn't feel right about hiding an engagement being that it should be one of the happiest times of our lives). I am 100% this is the person I want to spend my life with so I know this will have to come from either cutting off my family entirely or her miraculously respecting my boundaries.

I'm still brainstorming what to do in terms of setting boundaries. My current plan is to tell her I will leave without contact if she throws a tantrum. I expect that when I follow through with this she will try some level of retaliation either by trying to sabotage my career or my relationship. I'm not sure what measures to take to try to safeguard against this. Obviously my boyfriend knows what to expect but I think it's also challenging for him to view this as BPD rather than just my mom being terrible. I also am afraid of her reaching out to whatever residency program I match at with lies and manipulation. I am hesitant to unload my problems to the program director before I even get the chance to start working there, let alone before they have officially picked me.
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2021, 12:11:31 PM »

Teambean,

I am so sorry you are going through this.  I completely understand your desire for transparency and autonomy.  I had not planned to post on your thread, but your concern that your mom might reach out to your residency program administrators reminds me so much of my sister's behaviors toward perceived enemies.  She impersonated a perceived enemy to obtain a police report on that woman then sent it to the woman's new employer.  Whether or not that employee had previously disclosed the matter, having the report show up on her boss's desk cannot have helped her standing with the firm.  While that perceived enemy did indeed have a skeleton in her closet, the completely false allegations my sister has made against other perceived enemies have been far worse.  You are in a somewhat worse position as you will be surrounded by mandatory reporters who will be legally obligated to address and report any false allegations of abuse made against you. 

All of my life, I have felt like honesty is the best policy, but in these instances complete honesty and transparency can only hurt you.  If you can wait until you begin your residency and just say you resumed contact with your boyfriend, you'll most likely have an easier time in the coming years.  The single greatest regret of my life is not understanding and practicing "gray rock" when I should have. 

But again, I understand and respect your need for being in control of your own life and the narrative of your relationship.  I wish you the best of luck with your conversations and boundaries moving forward. 
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zachira
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2021, 12:22:25 PM »

You are very aware of what the challenges will be with telling your BPD mom about your relationship with your boyfriend. That she is likely to sabotage your residency, is a real and legitimate worry. Can you possibly wait until you have been in your residency for at least a year, so that you have solid trustworthy relationships with your colleagues who will likely not participate in enabling your mom sabotaging your career? Is there any chance of renting a cheap studio that you will only use when your mother is in town, so she cannot just show up at your house at any time? In my experience with numerous relatives with BPD and NPD in both my immediate and extended families, including my mother and brother with BPD and my sister with NPD, timing of disclosure of personal information, limiting the amount disclosed to the absolute minimum necessary, and setting boundaries as needed are absolutely essential for your wellbeing and the health of your relationships with the people you have choosen to have in your life who are not part of your immediate family.
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Sunflower45

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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2021, 01:57:57 PM »

Others have weighed in with some terrific advice here. My recommendation is to start with two boundary setting steps. First, get your own phone and phone plan ASAP. Second, when you get your new home, do not under any circumstances give her or anyone in her circle (like your dad) a spare key.

You have been living in a reactive way for so long, it can be difficult to start thinking about what you want and acting accordingly. If she has influenced your home design choices, use your upcoming move to pick a style that reflects you and your boyfriend. If it were up to you (and it is! 100%!), how often do you want to talk to your mother on the phone? How often do you want to see her? In what other ways has she influenced your choices, and what do you really want in those arenas? The more you feel confident in what you want and who you are, the more you will be able to establish and maintain boundaries.
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teambean12

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« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2021, 01:10:00 PM »

Thanks all for the support. I understand this is going to be a painful process but I'm hopeful that this could be a new beginning. As much as I'd like to continue to put this pain off, I know that it's now or never.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2021, 02:35:26 PM »

teambeam- a word of caution here.

My own experience of this is that it isn't a moment in time but a process. I don't know how much you have learned about family systems. For me, I learned about this after I experienced trying to make a change with my own family and read about it.

All families exist in a sort of psychological equilibrium, even a dysfunctional family, and each person has their role in maintaining this equilibrium. You have been a part of this, and you have had your role. You see where your father, who has probably moved to more of an enabler role in this. I don't know if you have siblings but they play a part too. A part of your role has been enmeshment with your mother and appeasing her in order to keep the peace. These roles may not be ideal for all family members but each person takes them on in a family to stay within the family unit. You may not even be fully aware of all you play in this.

When one person in a family unit changes their role in the dynamics. It throws all the family members off balance and increases the discomfort of the family- and the first response is for the family to work to regain balance by coercing the wayward family member back into their role.

I am sharing this because, I too was naive about how this works and I too jumped right into boundaries with my mother.  I thought it was just with my mother. It was not. It included my father. Please read about the Karpman triangle for the dynamics. BPD mom took victim perspective, Dad was her rescuer and the two of them bonded against me - the persecutor. I knew my mother would react poorly. I didn't anticipate that my father would react like he did.

The first reaction is for the family members to attempt to coerce the wayward one back in to the dynamics. They want to feel comfortable again. If this doesn't work then the next option might be expelling the wayward family member.

In retrospect, I don't regret that I had to start having stronger boundaries with my mother, this was necessary. However, I do know now that, if I knew then what I know now, I would have done it with better knowlege of the Karpman triangle and family dynamics. I think I could have managed my part in this diffrerently.

Smaller steps may be more manageable than a large"now or never " action. I can understand your wanting to get it done. But consider- do you want to have some contact with your family? Do you want to continue to have some kind of relationship with your father? A large move that you emotionally aren't able to maintain might just result in your stepping back into your old role. Small steps are easier. Some are going to come with graduation- a salary, no more need for them to pay tuition, your own place to live- maybe even in a different area from them.

Soon you will hear where you match
You need to get your own phone. Momma doesn't need work related phone #s on her bill. That's a violation of confidentiality.
You cut the financial connection when you get paid.
You continue to see your BF and share the news when you are in a more financially settled place.
You know your mother will react but you know how to not react to her and you let her settle which she probably will. Same with your Dad.

IMHO, from experience, a stepwise approach is more managable in this situation.
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