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Author Topic: Establishing Communication with non-BPD Parent: Seeking Pros and Cons, Ideas  (Read 1591 times)
Teabunny
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Relationship status: Limited Contact
Posts: 50



« Reply #30 on: November 15, 2021, 10:32:17 PM »

Update to this thread from a few months ago about establishing contact with my nonBPD dad.

Just needing support...

My father's sister died recently. I'll miss my aunt a lot, and grieving that loss (we had a lifelong penpal relationship via mailed cards). I worked up courage to call dad at work (mom gets upset if I communicate with dad but he now has me using his work email, and I did mail Walking on Eggshells to his office address and he's reading the book to find coping ideas).

I figured we'd talk about his sister, funeral arrangements etc. I haven't dared call him since last spring, so I figured there may be some catching up / asking how my life was going, sharing his own updates. Nope. Instead he wanted to talk about mom. Didn't even seem capable of empathy that I was sad to lose his sister, and he didn't seem upset by the loss himself, but I understand that mom is the very large weight on his mind. She's prevented him from watching TV for the past month, or reading books, checking email or Facebook, etc. Doesn't permit him to have friends "that would take away attention from her" he told me. She gets angry if he receives Father's Day wishes or connects with his family. He allows this to happen, as he did when I was a child. As she did when I lived there, she rages at him, name-calls, storms around the house breaking things and making threats. He said it's fine if I call him at work since she won't find out. He's now been texting me from his office. He said mom was so upset over the weekend, he's not sure he'll be able to attend his sister's funeral! He plans to attend if he can. I decided not to go due to covid and working in grocery and having to fly a long distance to get there. (Everyone's understanding of that)

It hurts me to see either of them hurting, and for mom to abuse him like this for so many decades.

Also, that phone call felt like he viewed me as his counselor (which is sometimes how mom treats me). I see the triangulation. I pointed out choices and while I didn't have space to get many words in, wished him peace and hoped he found insight in Walking on Eggshells. At first I was HOPING to be able to have some sort of father-daughter relationship in my life as an adult and lamented mom's controlling behavior. Now I think maybe he will see that relationship as serving his need to vent and be mom's victim, so my relationship with him will still be all about her!

Am I on the right path that the answer here is to remind myself that my parents made their choices, there isn't anything I can change, I should focus on maintaining boundaries as I have been, and live my life to the fullest/healthiest and spend time with non-relatives who are stable and caring (so grateful!), while just accepting that my dad's situation at home is going to come up and be painful (and bizarre) for me from time to time?
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Turkish
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Other
Relationship status: "Divorced"/abandoned by SO in Feb 2013; Mother with BPD, PTSD, Depression and Anxiety: RIP in 2021.
Posts: 11288


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« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2021, 09:13:52 PM »

Quote from: Teabunny
Am I on the right path that the answer here is to remind myself that my parents made their choices, there isn't anything I can change, I should focus on maintaining boundaries as I have been, and live my life to the fullest/healthiest and spend time with non-relatives who are stable and caring (so grateful!), while just accepting that my dad's situation at home is going to come up and be painful (and bizarre) for me from time to time?

I think that you see it rightly here. You dad is in an abusive relationship, yet he's making his choices. I think you are right on the triangulation angle as well. I feel for you that you can't have a normal conversation without him unloading upon you without thought of seeing you as a Daughter, no matter what he's going through. Yes, you're both adults, but it would feel nice, I think, for you to still feel like his little D in some manner, yes?
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Notwendy
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« Reply #32 on: November 18, 2021, 05:44:09 AM »

It wasn't right for him to lean on you with that, but to not blame him, he's probably on edge emotionally, and wasn't able to think clearly about that. As someone in the family- you are a safe person for that- but this is not your role in the relationship.

Rarely -my father would vent to me, but as soon as I thought we might have a bond, he'd side with BPD mom against me if she was angry- or allow her to be abusive to me- probably because it kept her occupied when I was the target. Ironically, the more she was angry at someone else, the better they seemed to get along, as the Karpman triangle allowed her to be victim, and him to be rescuer, against the person she was angry at.

I am sorry about your aunt. I know you seek empathy from your parents. I think your Dad may be capable of it, but emotionally he's very stretched thin in this abusive situation. I recall a moment, I was a teen at the time. I was upset as I witnessed an argument between a friend and her parents- and in this case, I could tell the parents were right. I was upset at the emotional pain they were feeling. I came home and tried to describe it to my parents. The look on their faces- a sort of blank- and the way they responded- they had no idea why I might be feeling sad for someone else. It stunned me. That feeling I had was empathy- and I could not share that with them.

But there was a time when my father could do that. Mt first teen age breakup- he was so empathetic and kind to me as I was going through my first teen age crush who didn't feel the same about me. It feels like this is all there is to a teen ager, but he was wise and assured me it would be OK, and it turned out to be OK.

I think honestly he just got emotionally stretched thin with my mother's behavior and completely enmeshed. Eventually there was only one person who mattered to him and that was her. Not even himself. Seeing how she treated him was disturbing. In his elder years I called social services to see what I could do, but he was legally mentally intact and they told me unless he chose to press charges, I had no way to intervene.

I truly understand your wish to reach out to your father. He is making his own choices though. If this continues, I would suggest you have a firm boundary on letting him vent to you. This puts you right in the middle of the Karpman triangle. He becomes victim, you become rescuer by being someone to vent to. BPD mom becomes persecutor. But for me, as soon as I thought I might have a chance to connect with my father, the Karpman roles could turn back to him rescuing my mother against me. In addition I learned that anything I shared with him was shared with her- emails, phone calls.

Still, I think it's normal to want a father- daughter relationship. I think it's a special bond and I cherish the times we had that bond. Sadly, it didn't seem possible as time went on. I think he was just emotionally stretched. I think your plan to have boundaries, and have your own happy life is a good one. You can't rescue him. It gets you right in the middle of the Karpman drama. However, you also don't have to close the door on the relationship. You can still send cards at birthdays, short emails sharing something "hey Dad, I love my new job" or things like that ( light and drama free). It's his choice to make a connection if he chooses.







« Last Edit: November 18, 2021, 05:52:39 AM by Notwendy » Logged
Teabunny
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Relationship status: Limited Contact
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« Reply #33 on: November 18, 2021, 01:19:05 PM »

Thank you!

 @Turkish, yes it would be so nice to be in a healthy daughter role. Actually, this is the way he talked to me as a child (venting about mom) so nothing changed when I became an adult. It's sad.

 @Notwendy, exactly on the empathy point! I wish he could have had empathy for me grieving his sister and shared his memories about her or talked about her (on the day she died) instead of his decades-long problems with my mom. Good reminder about them eventually sharing all messages / communications. I also see (through his venting) that he has to treat me as the persecutor when communicating with mom. It was funny he couldn't remember any actually bad things I'd done as a child or teen and had to use odd examples of the ways I'd upset her 15+ years ago - while he stated them as wrong things I had done in his opinion as well as hers, as an adult now I see those childhood actions were nothing to get upset about and actually I'm proud of little me for having done those good things. With nurturing parents, the deeds could have been even better / more educational or productive. I guess I'm re-parenting myself.

Excerpt
Eventually there was only one person who mattered to him and that was her. Not even himself. Seeing how she treated him was disturbing.

Yes, and this is why I've re-evaluated my 2021 goal of exploring the possibilities of our father-daughter relationship and pretty much concluded it's not going to improve. Talking with dad felt like another tool mom is using to punish me (due to my pain for his suffering and him bringing up how I upset her), even though that probably isn't planned by anyone. How can we have anything like a normal parent-child connection while he chooses to remain enmeshed? Nope.
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Methuen
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« Reply #34 on: November 18, 2021, 03:28:12 PM »

Am I on the right path that the answer here is to remind myself that my parents made their choices, there isn't anything I can change, I should focus on maintaining boundaries as I have been, and live my life to the fullest/healthiest and spend time with non-relatives who are stable and caring (so grateful!), while just accepting that my dad's situation at home is going to come up and be painful (and bizarre) for me from time to time?

Yes.  This is exactly what I have tried to do.  It is hard, because my mom is 85, fragile, has a multitude of complicated health issues, and I am her only family.  But I can only do my best at setting and maintaining boundaries, and the path you have articulated is the only way I was able to find sanity.  I have to watch my mom continue to make terrible decisions, and just let her experience the consequences she has chosen.  It's brutal.

 
Excerpt
He's now been texting me from his office.
Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post)
??? Does this strike you as careless on his part?

If he's texting you from his personal phone, this strikes me as very strange...like he's not worried about keeping your conversations private.  Almost an act of self-sabotage, as naivete on his part seems impossible.  If he's texting you from his personal phone, your mom will see the conversations.  Guaranteed he has no privacy from her with regards to what is on his phone.  She will have his password, if he has one.  I'm hoping he's texting from an office phone?  But even if he is, he's probably given her that password too. 

Karpman triangle...

Circle back to your conclusion: remind myself that my parents made their choices, there isn't anything I can change, I should focus on maintaining boundaries....


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wmm
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« Reply #35 on: November 20, 2021, 11:47:11 AM »

Wow this thread has been so eye opening! I thought I was alone in my experience with my nonbpd father. Teabunny, I can totally relate to you being frustrated that your father only wanted to talk about your bpdM when your aunt died. My father would have done the exact same thing. For me, it feels like I am his therapist sometimes. He doesn't have a lot of people he can talk to about his problems because most people don't know or understand and he doesn't really have any of his own friends. It sounds like your situation is similar. Correct me if I'm wrong. I understand the yearning to have a relationship with a parent. I'm glad that you have another father figure. As a Child and Youth Worker, I learned to always try to find one person in a child's life that could act as a caregiver for them. These people were seen as protective factors. Unfortunately, not everyone had one, but it made such a difference when they did, whether it was someone such as an aunt or a teacher. I'm inspired by you and your actions to find protective factors for yourself.
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