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Author Topic: Intensity & complaining  (Read 193 times)
truthdevotee
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« on: February 26, 2021, 04:27:09 AM »

Hi all,

One of the areas where I feel confused is in relation to my pwBDP's intensity. 90% to 95% of the time, pwBDP is stressed in some way. When stressed, she's extremely intense and demands my attention. The intensity is usually expressed as overwhelm and constant complaining. Generally, one of my values is to be there for her, to listen to her, etc. However, only when I truly have the time to be present.

And here's where the problem is. I have so little time. I have an intense full time job. Being on home office is hard because I'm around my pwBDP, and she generally disturbs me a lot, and on bad days, demands my attention, time and help away from my job. I've decided that a certain amount of my presence at home at the expense of my job is OK for me, because my boys 3 years old and 2 years old need that presence, and she needs the support to provide them a fulfilling day. The older one is at playgroup but the younger one still at home with my pwBDP on maternity. Therefore, 90% of the time I cook lunch or grab a takeaway and bring it home. If there's urgent tasks to do, I support her with those... it could be shopping which can take up to 1 hour, but sometimes "urgent" is as simple as helping our youngest to get dressed to go outside - to me this represents urgent because if she is struggling so much to do it on her own, I should help for the sake of my son's happiness.

OK, so the intensity and complaining. It gets to me. It gets to me because I'm trying to juggle a full work day, support as much as possible with tasks at home, and meanwhile, my pwBDP is stressing out in the background and requiring my attention. I do try. But I get tired. I'm writing this now out of the house with my laptop. Getting out of the house is always a relief. And so I think I need a boundary, but it seems very tricky probably because I don't have conviction yet. I'm still manipulated to feel I am selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, when I don't give her the "talking space" that she needs pretty much at any moment of the day. It gets to me and sometimes it comes out in my tone - "I don't have time for this right now." I get snippy, and I sometimes "command" her to give attention to our boys as a way of distracting her from whatever is absorbing her attention in her mind - like "do you notice our youngest is crying right now? He's pulling at your leg. I think he wants a cuddle," or, "please grab a glass of water for the boys, I need to get ready for work right now." Most of the time this snippiness and lack of calm from my side goes down alright - she normally doesn't respond negatively. Sometimes I just tell her the truth, I'm absolutely overwhelmed right now - i.e. "this is too much data for me to juggle all at the same time." However, she doesn't necessarily respect it, and she carries on with the intensity and complaining a lot of the time.

Leaving the house feels like a relief because I can finally have access to some peace within myself. I can calm down my own overwhelmed feelings. But then, when I should be working, I'm sitting down and meditating for 20 minutes instead. I allow myself this as an act of self-love... just all of this adds up to a large number of work hours spent not working on a weekly basis.

This intensity isn't rage, but I can feel the rage and anxiety beneath it. She believes she's in control but despite reminders - she does attempt to adjust her tone/intensity - she ends up going right back into intensity very quickly.

Plus, I'm just so tired about the complaining. In this case, I'm talking complaining about situations and other people - not me.

This is a deeper part of me that is "tired" and she doesn't know that I'm tired by it. But I am. I see from experience how pointless it is to try to stop her complaining by reframing and recontextualizing and encouraging her to see things differently. The truth is, a part of her psyche is invested in the emotional negativity and she holds onto it and keeps it going through intensity and complaining. It's amazing that she believes it is relieving; in my eyes it only keeps it recycling and it absolutely exhausts her. After 3 days of this, today she has an intense migraine. Sometimes her complaining about other people goes into deeper waters - attacks and name calling.

Also, she calls me sensitive in the moments where she reacts to my attempt to ask her to calm down, to lower her tone, that I'm worried about the boys picking up the energy. "YOU'RE JUST SENSITIVE AND HAVE NO EMPATHY." Ugh. Argh.

I am generally a sensitive person, and I've been confused by this in the past. I thought maybe she has a point; maybe my fight/flight response is too easily triggered. But I don't know any more... the intensity is just always there... and it tires me out, even with the knowledge that she has PBD. It's amazing that in a life with a great but intense job, and two small children, the biggest "problem" I seem to experience is my pwBDP's general attitude about situations and people. So much efficiency, productivity and closeness is lost because she's intent on complaining all the time... it feels (to me).

So this is a small vent from my side, and also I'm wondering how to properly address the whole intensity/complaining thing, where she appears to believe is "normal part of marriage" and if I don't listen and empathize with it at all times, even when I'm supposed to be working, then I'm an "&%&%#&^##^" [insert insult here]. How to properly address the boundary issue to avoid my own overwhelm/snippiness trying to juggle so many things at the same time?

The lack of boundaries between work and home during COVID-19 is of course a general issue I'm sure, around the world. But with pwBDP I guess the challenges are even greater.

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Notwendy
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2021, 06:13:42 AM »

I think it's important to realize that our boundaries are about us, not the other person. You have absolutely no control over your wife's behavior. You can not make her stop complaining or asking you for help. She will do what she chooses to do.

Boundaries are about us. They are our choices of behavior. So the boundary about your wife's complaining isn't: "you will respect my boundary and not complain"-- it is "what can I do to have some quiet time so I can work?"

IMHO, as long as you are readily available in the house, you can not stop her from interrrupting you. Although working at home is due to the pandemic, is there any way to create a physical boundary- some place you can go as if you were "going to work"? or can you enter your office for any reason? Although this may sound extreme- is there any office space you could rent, or some space you can go to- where you can say " I will be here from 9-2 every day. You basically have to establish work hours and a physical boundary.

I don't deal with this in a relationship but I have observed it with my parents. I have noticed that my BPD mother is more self sufficient when she has to do things for herself.  While I don't think she is highly functional she can do basic things. But if I someone else is around, she enlists them to help her. I think the underlying issue is that she has a great need to be taken care of, so her being "helpless" and "needing help" also fulfils an emotional need. When I do visit, it's an experience of servitude. I would actually describe our relationship as that, from early adolescence- serving and helping my mother with even the smallest of tasks takes up the majority of our time together and if I don't help her when she asks, she feels very hurt. Again, this may not be about the task but her emotional need isn't met when we don't do what she asks.

My father coped in several ways. He did go to work- and that created a boundary, although my mother likely called a lot while he was there but he may not have been available all the time to take calls. He did hire babysitters to help.

This changed when he retired and he too was more available at home and so he took on more of the daily tasks other than child care-as we were adults and out of the home by then. Still, he took some time for himself- and go out to run errands or get something to eat on his own.

I don't know how helpful this is in terms of a marriage but I have only seen how physical boundaries work in such a situation. It may help to keep in mind that behind all her requests to listen, or do something is also probably an emotional need and also it's possibly enhanced by your presence. Getting some sort of workspace and work schedule away from home may be your best solution.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2021, 06:23:13 AM by Notwendy » Logged
maxsterling
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Relationship status: living together, engaged
Posts: 2521



« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2021, 11:53:42 AM »

Word for word, I could have written this exact post.  Except maybe my W's intensity boils to rage very often.

I've actually made mental notes about how long she goes between positive comments.  Sometimes it is days.  Literally, not a single positive comment about anything. 

I hear what you are saying about work.  I'm in the same boat.  Heck, I am typing this now instead of working, because I need the time to calm down after a morning of Ws bad mood.  I doubt I will get much actual work done today, because it's nearly impossible to concentrate after dealing with the chaos for awhile.
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truthdevotee
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: Wife, but not formally married
Posts: 259


« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2021, 03:35:29 PM »

I think it's important to realize that our boundaries are about us, not the other person. You have absolutely no control over your wife's behavior. You can not make her stop complaining or asking you for help. She will do what she chooses to do.

Boundaries are about us. They are our choices of behavior. So the boundary about your wife's complaining isn't: "you will respect my boundary and not complain"-- it is "what can I do to have some quiet time so I can work?"

IMHO, as long as you are readily available in the house, you can not stop her from interrrupting you. Although working at home is due to the pandemic, is there any way to create a physical boundary- some place you can go as if you were "going to work"? or can you enter your office for any reason? Although this may sound extreme- is there any office space you could rent, or some space you can go to- where you can say " I will be here from 9-2 every day. You basically have to establish work hours and a physical boundary.

I don't deal with this in a relationship but I have observed it with my parents. I have noticed that my BPD mother is more self sufficient when she has to do things for herself.  While I don't think she is highly functional she can do basic things. But if I someone else is around, she enlists them to help her. I think the underlying issue is that she has a great need to be taken care of, so her being "helpless" and "needing help" also fulfils an emotional need. When I do visit, it's an experience of servitude. I would actually describe our relationship as that, from early adolescence- serving and helping my mother with even the smallest of tasks takes up the majority of our time together and if I don't help her when she asks, she feels very hurt. Again, this may not be about the task but her emotional need isn't met when we don't do what she asks.

My father coped in several ways. He did go to work- and that created a boundary, although my mother likely called a lot while he was there but he may not have been available all the time to take calls. He did hire babysitters to help.

This changed when he retired and he too was more available at home and so he took on more of the daily tasks other than child care-as we were adults and out of the home by then. Still, he took some time for himself- and go out to run errands or get something to eat on his own.

I don't know how helpful this is in terms of a marriage but I have only seen how physical boundaries work in such a situation. It may help to keep in mind that behind all her requests to listen, or do something is also probably an emotional need and also it's possibly enhanced by your presence. Getting some sort of workspace and work schedule away from home may be your best solution.

Thanks so much.

I'm very grateful to all of you wise souls who help on this forum.

I must get this physical boundary in place to work properly over the next few weeks. Kindergartens are closed now. My pwBDP refuses babysitters at home. I'd need to rent a place and get help from babysitters in a different place. I could also use the space to work when the boys aren't there but are at home with their mum. I'm not sure yet if this will happen - I need to make a decision hastily though. I now feel strong enough to make such a decision if that's the decision that feels right. It's hard as I still go to self-doubt and guilt, as well as an intense fuzzy mind due to anxiety, when I talk to her... this can be physically and emotionally and psychologically exhausting. But step by step I can feel I'm seeing things and getting a bit stronger. I read a bit of the Eggshells and Family Members books everyday to keep learning new things.

Today I had a beautiful day with the boys. I had less subconscious grief than yesterday. I took them to a fantastic park next to a very small airport in the countryside. It was sunny and relatively busy. Great atmosphere. We got lunch and a surprise pizza takeaway on the way home. pwBDP had been out elsewhere all day. When she came home, I allowed myself to leave the house to rest and recover for a half hour or so. I've been actively taking care of myself by buying some nice stuff that I need e.g. bluetooth headset, mobile phone charger for the car, etc. This is good progress to not be manipulated into staying home and allowing her the time to connect fully with the children. If I'm there, my presence distracts her.

Even buying these seemingly insignificant items such as a new pair of sunglasses, a massage tool that vibrates to try to relieve some of the tension in my shoulders, bluetooth headsets, etc., is really good progress. I haven't bought anything for myself for years, always fearful of her response. Last couple of days I did this boldly and she hasn't said a word, because I've made an authentic and loving choice for my happiness and needs (bluetooth headset gets me onto my 12 step meetings easier)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2021, 03:44:29 PM by truthdevotee » Logged
truthdevotee
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Relationship status: Wife, but not formally married
Posts: 259


« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2021, 03:40:31 PM »

Word for word, I could have written this exact post.  Except maybe my W's intensity boils to rage very often.

I've actually made mental notes about how long she goes between positive comments.  Sometimes it is days.  Literally, not a single positive comment about anything. 

I hear what you are saying about work.  I'm in the same boat.  Heck, I am typing this now instead of working, because I need the time to calm down after a morning of Ws bad mood.  I doubt I will get much actual work done today, because it's nearly impossible to concentrate after dealing with the chaos for awhile.

I'm with you maxsterling.

Although I don't wish this for either of us, just knowing we're in this at the same time makes me feel stronger.

I send you strength and comfort, maxsterling.
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izzitme
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2021, 03:45:39 PM »

Hi Truthdevotee,

I have not yet figured any of this out but wanted to say I am in the same boat as you. My husband's energy is so negative and feels so violent in a way that it drains me. We both work from home regardless of the pandemic and I am always having to listen to his dramas or help him with every little thing around the house. He is in constant crisis and never happy, ever. He views me as a subordinate that is just there to make his outer life not reflect the dysregulation of his inner life. He will tell me a story about something that happened on a work call and get into a rage, pumping his arms like the hulk and screaming. It is terrifying. I have been married to him for 2 years and the negativity and rages has triggered 3 autoimmune flares for me.

Just some validation that you are not alone.

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