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Author Topic: Establishing Communication with non-BPD Parent: Seeking Pros and Cons, Ideas  (Read 851 times)
Teabunny

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« on: May 25, 2021, 01:31:21 PM »

Hello!
I'm new, have browsed this site and read resources (amazing stuff here!) but I have an unanswered question: Should I reach out to my non-BPD father and establish regular communication so we can have some kind of father-daughter relationship (such as phone calls or visits)? This violates a lifelong unhealthy family rule: that I never see or communicate with my father without my BPD mother's presence because dad and I communicating without mom upsets her.

Context:
I am a 36-yr-old daughter of a mother with untreated BPD and on March 25 2021 put in place limited contact boundaries with her so that her abusive messages can be filtered through my loving husband of 14 years who consents to notify me if it is emotionally safe for me to read/listen to messages, and I don't respond to them or read them if they're not safe. We live really far away and I haven't seen my parents in about 5 years. During childhood, dad explained that he had to keep his distance from me in order to protect me and not provoke mom. When I became an adult, dad & I once had a phone call while mom was in a medicated sleep, and he explained that he would have divorced her but knew she was likely to get sole custody in the 1990s being a woman, so he stayed with her to protect me as best he could but mostly stayed at work and in the basement which enabled her to abuse me as a child and teen. He said he stays married living with her now because he doesn't have enough money to divorce and pay for her separate lodgings and medical expenses. My adult relationship with both parents has been through my mom because she becomes worse (verbally abusive to my dad, suicidal, raging, etc) when dad tries to connect with me, so she's the one to email, send me a birthday card or gift, etc. I communicate with both parents through their joint email account and occasional phone calls when they're both on the line, birthday and holiday cards and gifts. Through books like "Stop Walking on Eggshells" I recently realized that I have the choice to communicate with my dad (and he has the choice with me) even if this upsets mom.

In my adulthood maybe 8 years ago, dad took a risk and visited my husband and I during a business trip through our state. We really enjoyed talking and visiting with him and would like him to be a part of our lives in some way, such as regular phone calls. I haven't asked him how he feels about this because I'm working out my own feelings about it. His advice when I dared to secretly call him at his office to notify him about my new contact boundaries with mom (so he could be aware to contact me in a real emergency) was this: he immediately accepted my boundaries, doesn't think mom will ever change (she has episodes about 4 days/nights every week), so I should go live a happy healthy life, and he thanked me for hanging in there so long.

Honestly I can't foresee the consequences to establishing a father-daughter relationship but for the first time in my life I feel safe from mom because she can't hurt me physically (lives too far) nor emotionally (new boundaries) so the only threat would be to my dad, herself, and property. I'm willing to risk it to have a father in my life (as long as he's willing) but want to understand more and this seems like a great place for ideas and experience on this topic.

Thank you!
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missing NC
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2021, 04:34:47 PM »

Can you dad set up his own email account, Teabunny?  That would seem to be the easiest option. 
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Teabunny

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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2021, 07:20:49 PM »

Yes, @missingNC, my Dad has a work email I used once or twice and felt guilty and afraid for him if mom finds out. He's not good with typing and wasn't very responsive but that's OK. Good idea and reminder that this is an option. All ideas very welcome! Thanks!
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Nopuppets

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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2021, 08:31:20 AM »

Hello Teabunny.  I’m happy for you that you have strong boundaries in place.  I agree that a new email that your mother doesn’t know about might be a great option.  Another thought might be a prepaid cell phone that can’t be tracked, that way you can speak to your father.  I also have a BPB mother.  Recently I have encouraged my father to speak with a therapist to learn coping mechanisms to deal with her.  I do hope that you and your father will find a way to be able to keep in touch privately.  Keep us posted.  You are not alone.  Hugs!
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beatricex
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2021, 10:25:32 PM »

 hi Teabunny,

Welcome.

You said
Excerpt
for the first time in my life I feel safe from mom because she can't hurt me

So a whole bunch of red flags went up for me when I read this.  Can we get some more background of your story?  I am just really concerned for you.

Here to help.  I have a BPD mom and codependent father.  They are still together.  Never really thought I could go behind his back and establish contact, that would be "against the rules" as you've stated.

I just don't want you to set yourself up for failure here.  I mean, the title of your post is Pro's and  Con's.  Do you have a therapist?  I think a responsible one would try to at least explain the cons here..and there are many.

b

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Teabunny

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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2021, 03:52:12 PM »

Thank you @Nopuppets, that's wonderful you encouraged your father to learn coping mechanisms! Awesome. That's what I wish for my dad too but since my parents aren't in a solution-seeking problem-accepting place where therapy would be an option, I've told myself their mental problems and marriage problems are (now and in the past) none of my business and I will recommend some resources if either of them change someday (based on their decisions, such as maybe my dad will want to leave mom or maybe stay and learn to cope). And I should keep exploring options for my husband and I to talk to my dad from time to time, right now I think his work email is probably safest.

Thanks @beatricex, I would absolutely be in therapy if we felt we could afford it. It's a goal of ours. I did try Regain online but I had to pay even when my therapist wasn't available (subscription, not based on sessions) and also it was too expensive for us right now. I feel like I talked too much about my backstory; what did you want to know?
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Teabunny

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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2021, 04:00:11 PM »

I've been thinking more about establishing regular contact with my dad and am kinda learning that in a literal sense we already have that since I know his work email and phone etc. I think my problem is feeling like it's not allowed or not normal or not possible from an emotional level due to mom's emotions/behaviors.  So working on my feelings (guilt, fear...).

But also just trying to decide. Pros/cons. Both the pros and the cons are fuzzy to me. Everything about my family is confusing so evaluating best actions is likewise confusing.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2021, 06:06:24 AM »

teabunny,

I too had a complicated relationship with my (now deceased) father and it puzzled me until I learned more about BPD and family dynamics. My perception was that BPD mom was the "problem" and that my father was the good one and some sort of victim/prisoner of their relationship. I also heard the " I can't divorce her because I have to protect you kids" from him, and in some ways that was true. In their day, she would have gotten custody and that would have been awful. But then, we kids grew up and they were still together, so that could not have been the only reason. I then heard the "I can't afford to divorce her" reason but my mother also spends money to the point that he goes without and so I also wondered how he could afford that too.

I didn't hear the " I need to stay away from you to protect you" reason but I heard variations. " I can't _________because mother won't let me". He was not "allowed" to buy me anything without her permission which always puzzled me as he was the one who earned the money. I'm not talking about expensive things either, even something small required her permission. Later I realized that she read every email I sent him ( she had access to his account) and listened in on our phone calls. I didn't have to go through her to contact him, but when I did contact him, he shared anything we said or did with her. Sometimes if I called him on the house phone and she picked up the extension, he would hang up. She controlled his relationship with me.

The pwBPD keeping their partner from family and friends is a common pattern in different variations. Your mother probably also insisted your father limit or cut contact with his own mother, or other family members as well.

I wondered why he put up with this. Likely he was also afraid of my mother's reactions- she has attempted suicide as well, or been destructive or raged. It's also quite likely that his appeasing her kept these rages less frequent and this did protect you from them. It's also likely he has taken the brunt of her abuse in order to keep her from abusing you.

This was hard to see. I didn't realize how abusive my mother was to my father until I was an adult, mostly because she had convinced me I was the cause of any issues she had and was emotionally and verbally abusive to me.

It wasn't until I had to work on my own co-dependent traits that I began to see that my father had a part in this too. As much as my mother is disordered, my father is an enabler and the pattern between the two of them was actually quite strong- stronger than his bond with anyone else, including me. The Karpman triangle explained the dynamics between the two of them and anyone else. This triangle served to stablize them somehow. If BPD mom felt like a victim, he would jump in to "rescue" her from their common "persecutor". The role of persecutor could change, but the victim/rescuer relationship between them was a predictable common. And once one is on the triangle, one can take any role. Blaming my mother for his own actions " I can't buy you this book you want, mother won't let me" was him taking victim role. Victim role is a way to absolve one from responsibility. Another way to put it is " It's easier for me to say no to you than to your mother". And one can be so strong an enabler that staying in the relationship, even if it is difficult, it compelling. My parents were a pair, each one needing the other.

 Sadly, I learned that if I upset mother, he'd be the one to get it. I would get it too, but I don't live with her. He did. And she's cruel and abusive. You are correct- your mother can't really hurt you now, but that's not the issue. Your mother can hurt your father and it's quite possible it's more than you know. He's less afraid of cutting off his relationship with you than to deal with her. I often wondered why he expected me to submit to her demands and tolerate how she treated me. I think he did defend us as much as he possibly could when we were children, but now that we are adults, she's less of a threat to us.

If you wish to make contact with your father, I think it would help to be aware of the triangle dynamics and also to not take his behavior personally.  I would advise you that anything you say or email is likely to be shared with her. Do not try to rescue him, say anything negative about her. Keep in mind that the strongest bond is your mother as victim, him as rescuer. His advice to you about going on and living your happy life- even if it doesn't include him in it may be his way of loving you, giving you the freedom he wants you to have. I didn't cut contact with my BPD mother as I didn't want to cut contact with my father. I was closer to him, we did have a relationship, but she controlled it and if she wanted him to - he'd cut it off.

Long term view though- I am glad I had a relationship with him. I am glad I kept contact with him and kept trying to. Even if it was complicated, I never stopped longing for a relationship with him. I know it's impossible to be close to my mother but not to him. I am grateful for the rare moments when I could spend time with him, when he'd visit me on a business trip, ( where mom didn't know what he was doing all the time), the rare moments when he was himself rather than be on guard with her. These moments may not be frequent for you, but I would say to take them when you can because for me, these memories are what I have left of him. I don't have a mother in the traditional sense. I have a mother who is too impaired from BPD to be close to anyone but my father was a "dad" and for that, I am grateful. But know that there will be times you father may retreat from you, maybe because he has to for his own sake. Don't take it personally.






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beatricex
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2021, 10:57:12 PM »

hi again Teabunny,

Besides echoing what Notwendy has said, here's the cons:

Your parents are enmeshed.  No level of "I have his secret decoder email" fixes that.

Words are cheap and your Dad's sound dirt cheap to me.  "Go get a life..be free, unlike me!"

really?

sorry...

I think that the triangulation Notwendy describes is more powerful than any "good" force of some secret contact with your Dad.  I mean, can't you just contact him with your mom knowing, cause she's gonna find out anyway (through him).

Speaking from my own experience of doing exactly that with my codependent Dad.  I guess I never thought the 'secret' thing would work so I never tried it.

b

on edit:  that might have been all projection, and if so I'm sorry.  I am in a weird place tonight
« Last Edit: May 28, 2021, 11:02:52 PM by beatricex » Logged
Notwendy
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2021, 07:28:02 AM »

beatricex-

I get what you are saying. Enmeshment. My parents were one person. There was no contacting Dad in secret. Everything was shared with BPD mom. She was the entire center of my father's actions- she had total control. Sometimes he would say something and it was hard to know if it was him or her speaking.

He did the right thing for us, protected us, worked to support us- because he's the kind of person who would do the right thing and I admire and respect him for that. He did the best he could with a difficult situation. I also think he did love us kids but probably wasn't allowed to always show how much. I can't discount the whole of my relationship with him due to the enmeshment with BPD mom. Sometimes, when she wasn't around, I did get to see the real person he was, and these moments are good memories for me.

In summary though, she was his main focus.  His relationship with me was dependent on her allowing it. I was disposable.

Still, in all the sum of it, I treasure my relationship with him and the good memories, whether or not it mattered to him. I'd like to think it did. So the advice is to contact your father, if you wish, for your own reasons- because if it matters to you, then do it. However, do it without expectations on his part.

I am still in contact with my BPD mother, due to my own decision. I have zero expectations of her. But it matters to me to be in contact with her, and that's why I do it.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2021, 07:33:18 AM by Notwendy » Logged
Teabunny

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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2021, 01:30:39 PM »

Thank you so much @Notwendy! Your comments/posts have been most insightful. It's amazing to read that someone else experienced things I experienced (some I didn't even post about) and really "gets it" from an empathy level. Surprising. I didn't think I would ever connect with people having similar experiences because I didn't think people like that existed. My head was nodding "yes that happened to me too" with like 90% of what you wrote, Notwendy.

I barely even knew if my experiences were real but luckily had some evidence. In recent months, I archived mom's creepy messages. In the pre-digital age I began journaling in 2nd grade despite mom trying to guilt, shame, stop me - although I did use black sharpie to mark over some pages whenever I had to think things through and comfort myself by writing my feelings about stuff she did to me or dad. She'd hunt for and find my journals. Too bad I lost those reflections but they sure helped in the moment. I took journals to school when possible and kept them in lockers or if I had to be away from home I'd give them to my boyfriend temporarily. Somehow I still have my 5-page letter to my pediatrician I typed at age 15 asking for help and describing mom’s behaviors, and a letter she wrote to me as a sort of backhanded apology in high school. As an adult I can see how not nice that letter is - this is all the "evidence" there is besides memory and feeling. So reading Notwendy's posts is like, Wow. And that’s important because it’s helping me understand the past, present reality, and know my future options.

And thank you also @beatricex for your responses. You’re right. No secret decoder options here! But the thing is that until you said that, my husband and I had been operating from logic with no awareness of the Karpman triangle or enmeshment. To us dad’s decisions look pretty illogical and against his own interests in many ways but then they are all about mom’s interests, aren’t they.

My reasons for trying to establish a separate father-daughter relationship of some kind is similar to Notwendy’s I think, for things like knowing my father as a person, what he was like as a boy, teen, college student. Knowing when he retires, what he wants to do with his life, if he’s ever traveling can we arrange a visit or meet somewhere in the middle, things like that. My whole life I’ve been asking what my dad’s mom and dad looked like and how they lived, and haven’t received photos or much in response from dad, but recently learned that I don’t need to go through dad to learn this – extended family is providing hundreds of photos and I recently learned what my grandparents looked like, even have a pic of dad’s mom holding me as a baby!!! Oh my golly. Now at age 36 I get to “see” her again. I have no idea if she was a good person but it’s still pretty cool.

I’d really love it if he signed my birthday cards but I’ll probably never ask. I want to ask him if he has any friends and what they do for fun (but, to my knowledge my dad has not had any friends since he married mom? I question how that’s possible, but you all are helping me understand). Ask him if he liked the latest book or movie. Mom would get upset about me reading books or him buying books or gifts for me and she doesn’t like that he watches movies or tv, but sometimes he’d take me to the movies – she was invited but refused to go).

Here's where I’m at – and the beauty of it is that I can take all the time I need to learn more on BPDfamily before making a decision –

While it’s technically true that I know my dad’s contact information and could communicate with him privately in some way, due to enmeshment and the Karpman triangle and his decisions and mom’s decisions, I can’t choose to have any sort of free healthy father-daughter relationship. It’s not possible until or unless my parents make different decisions and that’s none of my business. It isn’t that it’s not possible because it upsets mom, as I had previously thought. We can still do what we want or need to do despite upsetting her. It’s not possible because of the dynamic involved. I’ll have to mourn that.

However, good thing! I already have a father-daughter grandfather-granddaughter type relationship with a local senior who for 7 years now has filled the role of family/father/grandfather as a friend, advice-giver, financial support, sharer of coffee and conversation and Christmas vacations, recipient of all our family love, gifts, veteran celebrations and lawncare help, fellow bird watcher, taster of baked goods and provider of constructive criticism, stories of his life, photographs of him as a boy etc. It is a little sad, but I’m not going to get this kind of mutual affection or support from my real dad. And that’s OK to me I don’t care if we’re not blood.

Society sure has a problem with it, even coffee shop baristas get snarky about something called “gold daddy” or similar, situation that’s mutually exploitative? It’s due to me being young and unrelated to him. Everyone asks if he’s my grandfather and seems offended when I say no. I don’t think society realizes that some are orphans, some folks have escaped abuse, or in my case, some were separated physically and emotionally from extended family at age 8 or very young, and had a criminal for a grandfather. Some seniors are widowers with no local family etc. Our friend found a new partner to love in 2016 so that’s great but other seniors don’t even have one person. Mom has insisted that this gentlemen is that stereotype / downplayed our friendship (she’s never met him). Interesting trivia: he has the same birthday as my dad (older though). We met through a local volunteer organization and me being the clueless person I am, apparently triggered a bunch of social taboos. It’s unfortunate that we’ve felt this pressure against the very sort of healthy family-like structure that we both need while pressured (from people such as a former employer) towards my biological parents which is unhealthy. This is super illogical of them, in my opinion.

So a better option than reconnecting with my real dad would be a sort of modified business-as-usual, I think. My husband and I keep that healthy connection with the local senior and continue ignoring people with negative opinions about it. I continue trying to update my parents about my family and life through my new communication boundaries like the new family email address monitored by my husband to prevent mom’s abuse from reaching me, keep connecting to extended family on social media and snail mail, sending my parents gifts and cards as usual. As my husband said, my parents response or lack of response to these efforts does not matter (unless they set a boundary). “You’ve done your job as a daughter, move on with your life,” he says. I’m still not sure what to do about phone calls to my parents (mom’s upset feelings stopped calls from happening since 2020), but currently have given up. During months of no response from them, I presume my parents are still alive until someone informs me otherwise, unless it's mom and then I know to question everything she says using outside sources.

I wake up every morning full of gratitude that I’m not a child or minor anymore. Does anyone else get a huge smile when this thought crosses their mind?
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Teabunny

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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2021, 01:00:52 PM »

And on a related note, I think I also misinterpreted the communication lines. At first I thought the problem was about which methods to use if I decided to reconnect with my father (email? visits? etc) and figured that we were already literally in contact (I knew his email) and my emotions were the main issue (feeling that it's against mom's rules to communicate with dad). Yeah that's true but in the past couple weeks, dad hasn't responded to my most recent message to set up my new family email with my husband on it, so it is possible mom already has control over all his messaging systems and it's less literal of a connection than I realized. Just an insight many of you already have.
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2021, 02:23:58 AM »

Teabunny and friends,

The borderline parent indoctrinates the family into a "borderline family" ... a kind of cult. Impression management that the family is functional is part of the indoctrination for all to perform as "happy family members" (more important than being happy), and the family members try desperately accept that identity of their family, but when tested by its members it comes down to a real dictatorship by the borderline mother.

What broke my heart when I finally mildly but earnestly asserted to my unrecovered borderline mother at the age of 30 was that my entire family shut me out along with her. Nobody dared enable me re a ridiculous and shocking degree of control my mother apparently wielded over my life and the rest of the family and our relationships with each other. 

I was stunned and traumatized.  Added to my recognition of the ongoing manipulations of my mother on me, was my horror over the automatic and complete abandonment and rejection of the rest of my family with whom I thought I had some degree of emotional intimacy or at least good will.

Both my parents have passed on but my mother demonized my dad to us growing up.  He was an active alcoholic and brought a lot of hurt independently, but looking back I can see how her borderline psychotic and neurotic tendencies at times exacerbated his drinking.  She was also jealous when we bonded over something which wasn't often. 

I knew I was afraid usually of my alcoholic father, but I was so afraid of my borderline mother I fought to deny or minimize this reality. I tried to deny her jealousy of my relationship with my father.

I have guilt that my mother defined the family members firmly and judgmentally, often according to her feelings at the moment, but also in terms of roles she wanted us to play for her own needs.  There were double standards.  As the only girl (a sister had died at 2 when I was 5) I had a much shorter leash to my mother than my brothers.

I am again going through "Understanding the Borderline Mother" by Christine Lawson and Chapter 8 is a short chapter on the types of husbands chosen by unrecovered borderline women.  It is a short but interesting read.  (The whole book is awesome inmho.)

I need to review this chapter better, and I am taking on the chapters on this website again one by one, but as I recall this chapter is about how the waif ubpd chooses the "frog prince" whom she can rescue and who has low self esteem, the hermit ubpd chooses the "huntsman" who will protect her and is a martyr, the queen ubpd chooses "the king" who is narcissistic and successful in eyes of others but obsequious to the borderline wife and insecure, and the witch ubpd chooses "a fisherman" whose will she can control, who is passive aggressive and conflict phobic.

Often borderline women marry narcissists according to Lawson.  They are often too passive men who protect themselves by becoming remote from their wives and sadly consequently to their children, too. 

I don't know if any of these resonate. 

It is amazing the toxicity of a controlling unrecovered borderline mother on the entire family network.  I tried tough love on my mother during a decade of estrangement and came to the conclusion that tough love doesn't work with a borderline personality.  It triggers paranoia and "annihilating anger" -- irrational.  My mother couldn't begin to do conflict resolution.

I also spent the years of estrangement as grieving the horrifying rejection and abandonment of my other family members. 

I have closer bonds with my siblings today and after my estrangement I had LC with my parents. 

The wounds of being iced out for a whole decade still haunts me and humbled me identity-wise, as I discovered just how emotionally disturbed my mother was and incapable of a healthy bond but one based on shallow affinity and obsequiousness to her, also how much toxic control she wielded over the rest of the family that I assumed was stronger than it actually was.  I assumed my siblings were also more emotionally grounded than I was, especially since they seemed to have longer leashes re my mother.

Scott Peck said the family is a base camp for climbing the mountain of life.  But sometimes the base camp is so dysfunctional you need a base camp to get out of the family base camp!

I was naive thinking that it was only my relationship with my mother that was profoundly screwed up, I was naive as to the degrees of manipulation my mother exerted over all of us and capable of discouraging real bonding among family members. She insisted on being the hub of the wheel and all spokes were directed to her.

The disappointment by my enabling family members traumatized me further as I was struggling to rally myself to fight back from years of manipulation and denigration from my borderline mother. The first avalanche of trauma.  Then came that second one that I hadn't counted on.

My identity was whammied by the trauma re my  mother and the secondary trauma of the betrayal of the rest of the family.

Hope this helps. It helps me to hear of the struggles of you and others on this website.

Good luck to all of us.
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Teabunny

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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2021, 12:02:27 PM »

Thank you bethany for sharing your story - I'm so sorry you had to go through years of estrangement and trauma. I wish none of us had to experience any of this. But yes it does help me at least from an intellectual place. As an adult faced with much decision-making (due to wonderful freedom not being a child anymore) it's good to learn about this stuff to make better healthier decisions. Thanks!

I don't know if my dad is any of those 4 types mentioned in the Borderline Mothers book. Maybe a mix? How can I know? It seems like this would be useful to understand the past and possibly anticipate his future behavior?

I'm totally ok if estrangement happens due to her control over other family members (I think she probably never speaks to dad's family in any way and rejects their including her in chats so....maybe no estrangement there?) The thing with me is that extended family connections mostly ended when I was 8 and I never really felt like I had parents before then either. There's the isolation by BPD mom thing! Makes more sense now. So I'm not losing something I never had. Bonus, as far as I know, my extended family on both sides are for the most part not people I'd want super close anyway. Things like larceny, physical abuse, illegal 2nd wife with kids, mothers sexually abusing sons and those sons raping their sisters, mental illnesses, social workers etc come up in our family on both sides (I used newspaper articles to confirm some of this because it sounded like exaggerations, especially the running away to join the circus story which turned out to be true and full of rich detail including full page spread with photo of my great-grandmother in circus costume!). My cousins are on good terms with me via Facebook and don't communicate with mom because she doesn't want to. That's how I got family photos recently. I write letters and call a few extended family - mom could theoretically turn them against me but that would result in what, a lack of mail mostly. Which does make me sad but I have other penpals, and all of the relatives that could turn against me are very elderly (I've known that I will have to accept this loss one way or another). I simply do what I can to send flowers or brighten their day while keeping the inevitable in mind.

In summary: if mom disconnects me from both parents and extended family (the ones she speaks to) it's more of a bonus than a harm, except I would of course like a father-daughter relationship...or, I thought I did. I'm still certain I would want to try for that if mom had passed away.

When I was in school I read a book from the library "A Child Called It" by Dave Pelzer and while I couldn't relate to the physical abuse, there was something strangely familiar especially the emotional/psychological feelings of the protagonist child. The control over the food was also similar to how I experienced food with my mom sometimes. Also the alcoholism (I don't know how to know if mom was ever alcoholic - I don't think so because the requirements for defining alcoholism don't match her - but at times she drank/drinks problematically. Enough to fall down stairs and leave a hole in the wall and other incidents. Mom's bio parents were both alcoholics I'm told. She tried forcing me to drink as a teenager and managed to get me to take a sip of her drink, but I have to this day never bought or consumed alcohol of my free will. Don't like it, don't care to damage my brain.) I related to how Dave the child felt about his mother, and related to his dad's pitiful attempts to intervene. But more than the facts of the book I recalled my mom's reaction to catching me reading it. She felt personally hurt that I would read a book about child abuse and tried to prevent me from reading it. No wonder. Well, the mother in this book is said to have had Borderline Personality Disorder based on evaluations of her behaviors not a formal publicly announced diagnosis.

It's puzzle pieces like this one that keep clicking into place in my mind. Instead of a vast sea of confusion, there are now harbors of understanding being built along the shores. Thanks for the heads-up about estrangement, and thanks everyone for sharing your stories and wisdom.
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2021, 12:38:48 PM »

Bethany, you are spot on with the indoctrination. Also when I began to assert boundaries, my mother's family cut me off, and I also was shocked and hurt, until I learned more about the dynamics and that this would have been predictable. They did make contact with me later, but by then, I knew not to be emotionally connected with then. They do her bidding.

It's interesting how people jump to conclusions. We used to spend time with an elderly woman from our community and her own children didn't visit much. While it's tempting to be quick to judge, I know that my mother treats other people better than her own children. We are the only ones she is verbally abusive to.  I didn't judge. Some families in my neighborhood have adopted my mother as their "sweet grandma" and I have seen her with these families and she's so loving and kind. I suspect it's all an act on her part, but regardless, she has a seemingly good relationship with these families and they care about her and I am glad for that. She would never harm them. She's also kind and loving to her nieces and nephews on her side of the family.


And about the older gentleman, how quickly people judge according to expectations. Good children spend time with their parents. I am sure my mother's circle thinks her children are horrible for not being there more.
And that any younger woman with an older man as companion must have ulterior motives. I'm sure it upsets him too. But it's filling a different emotional need for both of you. It's too bad people jump to wrong conclusions but I am glad you don't let that stop you.
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« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2021, 12:42:23 PM »

Teabunny, much good luck to you. 

I think I have significant work to be done in risking to renew some past personal significant connections and mourning those that are too late to renew or never were possible to make. 

I chose to withdraw from a large part of my family network a good while ago.  I lost opportunities for mutual support, but I also avoided social pressuring to serve self-destructive roles manipulated by my dysfunctional parents, borderline mother and alcoholic father.

I have enough to do still trying not to repeat self-destructive relating still with people beyond immediate family, old or new to my life.  I sometimes train people to not respect my wants and needs by not respecting them myself.

xxx
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« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2021, 12:56:02 PM »

Notwendy,

I recently shared something it had taken me years to mourn about the abandonment of my immediate family when I asserted to my borderline mother and did not anticipate the rigid reaction of the rest of the family for an entire decade!

I have attempted to share that reality in the past with the few friends I have connected with from those older days, most not and I am sadly still estranged from which they deserved better, many, but it has never been fully grasped by people with loyalties to all concerned and I have given up the fight or urgency.

This person recently reacted with some degree of outrage since she had been impacted on a secondary level from my estrangement and had not understood the context of my separation and been told a different story.  She got it and made me realize how sad it was we got so separated from supporting each other for so long.

It is enlivening. Having her get it!!!

Kind of wondrous to finally after decades have someone suddenly feel frustration and anger on my behalf and be so willing to embrace the reality. Especially since I feel I am still having to accept denial and minimization to varying degrees among my siblings.

xxx
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« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2021, 01:09:59 PM »

One additional thought that may also help somebody reading:

It does seem like I may now be estranged from my parents as of a couple weeks ago, not sure. But if I were to be estranged from them, or even the entire family, because of mom's reaction to my March decision to continue allowing all forms of communication between us except no longer reading or responding to her abusive messages (husband filters incoming msgs first and he archives if abusive) and to be estranged for talking to my dad on the phone for about 10 minutes at his office to relay this new boundary, etc.... Any estrangement behaviors from any family will be based on misinformation, fear of mom, mom's disordered thinking and feeling, and so on. This feels really different than say estrangement because I married someone of a different religion or other life choice or anything personal. It doesn't feel personal and is objectively based in a lie or misunderstanding or from others just trying to protect themselves from mom.

It may be helpful to see this as essentially not about us.

It may also be helpful to see that bonds broken over something as simple and limited as not reading and responding to abusive messages were not strong healthy bonds to begin with, despite appearances. Or perhaps they were great relationships but are now imposing something unhealthy upon us (fighting our boundaries) which now makes them not great.

Ex of how it's not exactly personal:
When I was in elementary school, our family hosted an older girl in our house for a few months and her friends would hang out with me. One guy who grew up to become a school counselor recognized the abuse (to a limited extent) and took me out of the house with his friends sometimes to McDonald's or with the excuse that we were buying a mother's day gift for mom or to teach me to drive etc. He supported me for about 7 or 8 years as I grew up thinking of him as a brother. He'd call me sis and give me advice for dealing with mom even though as a student himself he didn't have much he could do for our family. It was amazing to get hugs and affection from this group of friends when I was a child not getting affection. Mom eventually saw a mention of him in my journal on a page titled "big bro" with how grateful I was to have his support. I made a page for each of my school friends as well listing all their positive characteristics and the fun times we had. Mom told him I had a crush on him and wanted him to be my boyfriend! I was horrified and disgusted at the thought of, to me, incest because I'd grown up with this person as my brother. He was so much older than me! Plus in reality I had a huge crush on a kid in my class. But "bro" believed mom's story and our connection changed and eventually he no longer was active in my life anymore. I reached out as an adult and he said he thought my whole family was weird etc. However, this estrangement doesn't feel personal. I feel confident that, if my "bro" knew who I really was as a person and as an adult, and had not been told false information by my mom, he would be so proud of me. We would probably be really close as family-like or on good terms to this day and I know he and his wife and kids would adore seeing our home and hiking the property and having reunions like we used to do. Plus with his background in psychology, and his wife's as well, I know they would recognize mom's BPD behaviors as unhealthy and support me in my boundaries with her (if they knew). So I feel nothing but good for him and his family and I keep the truth in mind whenever I remember him or come across his old photos or letters to me. His familial support is still there in my memories. I don't seek a reconnection with them because it would be tainted with past lies and awkwardness - and there's no need to prove myself or the truth among people who already see it and love me. I hope this helps.
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« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2021, 02:15:19 PM »

I think to clarify it, I don't think the hurt of estrangement comes from "we had a relationship and I lost it". The hurt comes from realizing the relationship was an illusion- on our part. I thought we had a relationship. I thought my relatives on my mother's side were my family and we have a set of expectations for what we think "family" is and when we lost that, we also realized it was mostly an illusion.

My BPD mother's relationship with me is between her and her projection of me. There's no "me" in there because she only sees her projection.

Her relatives' relationships with me are contingent on my mother's relationship with me. She controls what they "know" about me. They know "me" through what she tells them about me. The hurtful part is that they don't even consider looking for the actual evidence themselves because if they did, they'd realize she has lied to them. That doesn't fit the family dynamics. They believe her. They actually don't know much about me as I don't share much personal information with them.

My father's relationship with me was in part, based on the real me. We had some time together where each of us were ourselves. Mostly though she controlled it and opposing her was extremely difficult.

I grieved the loss of the illusion of family relationships but now I see them as just extensions of my BPD mom.

But of all these, the only one that had elements of "real" to it was the one with my father. I felt orphaned when he passed away. I still have a mother and her relatives, but the relationship is not the kind one expects of these types of relationships.


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« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2021, 08:37:32 PM »

Notwendy, that is SO TRUE about discovering the illusion of relationships with family. Sometimes it was never us they knew but the projection. Makes sense.

bethany, "I sometimes train people to not respect my wants and needs by not respecting them myself." I'm still doing this too! Trying to quit.
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« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2021, 05:26:01 AM »

Notwendy and others, 

I so appreciate your perspective as a child of bpd parent and other parent.  I was the father you describe.  I allowed my bpdwife to set the parameters of my involvement with my kids. 

I allowed her take full control of my relationships whether with my kids, my siblings,  my friends, and my parents..  i had eventually severed most all relationships which started with my.mom.
I allowed her to be the time manager of how much time I spent with my small children.  There was very little 1-1 time with them..  I thought I was doing that to improve my relationship with my wife which in turn i thought helped make her happy with me and kids.   I feared her anger and many times I was humildad by her in front of the kids. 

Fast forward to today.   I divorced my exbpd wife 5 years ago.  I have 7 kids.  I internally suffered greatly for the lack of control I had with my kids relationships.  With my youngest being 2yrs old and oldest being 16, when I left I consciously said I wanted to be a father to the younger kids.  I was blessed to have enough kids I could do it right with the younger kids. I could be the Dad I wanted to be.  Play with them outside, read bedtime stories, cook with them, take them out to eat one on one, not have a house environment where kids seemed to be just used to clean the house with a military grade clean. 
I could play with them  and not be nervous about how much time I did or scrambling back in house when I heard bpd mom came back home.  I

I alson was very fearful of the rages she could go in and felt like I needed to be there to help them and protect them from her.  But I too worked a lot so  they would be home many times by themselves when she went into a rage. 


5 years  later post divorce, my younger kids relationship is one that I have created.  I am the dad I always wanted to be.  I am so thankful I have another chance with the younger kids.  However the 2 oldest now 20 and 21 still do not talk with me.  They live with their mom when not at college.  It seems the younger kids have been instructed not to share anything about them to me even a picture.  It rips my heart out but I know that with me allowing ex-wife to dictate my relationship with them growing up, this is no more than extension of that control I gave her.   Exwife still acts as if the divorce happened yesterday and has so much anger towards me which the older kids act as extension of that anger. 

I now have full custody of the 5 younger kids after ex-wife voluntarily gave me .  That was after spending 3 years in divorce  courts trying to get at least 50% custody- which I lost- then shortly after that was finalized she gave me full custody. 

I love the all the kids and it is so hard to watch the older kids shun the love I have for them.  However I still feel that there is a relationship they want with me but just can't do it because they know that they will lose the relationship with their mom (same fear I had in my marriage) 

Sluggo
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Teabunny

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« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2021, 12:02:33 PM »

Sluggo it was great to read your story and really surprised me (I'm new to this BPD-exists thing) that there would of course be a father on this forum in a similar place to my father. Wow! Thank you very much for sharing. I laughed at the "military grade" clean house reference - yes hahaha that was my childhood environment, too.

I would have loved to be able to spend time just with my dad more growing up. He was really fun and caring when I was very little. That's amazing courage you've shown to make this possible with your 5 youngest!

Just a thought, may or may not apply to your situation - my dad occasionally seems to think that I don't want a relationship with him (he may think I'm angry with him for siding with mom, over what I don't even know) and I believe mom is probably talking trash to him about me the same way she talks trash to me about him. Triangulation. Karpman triangle. Possibly she's telling him I don't want him in my life but I do. Anyway if you get any info whatsoever from your ex-wife about your two oldest kids' feelings towards you, it may or may not be useful to question that info and only go with that the kids tell you themselves. I wish I could tell my dad that but, heh, we can't seem to have an independent conversation.
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« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2021, 01:55:43 PM »

Quick advice needed please -
On Monday June 14 I plan to mail the usual birthday card to my dad. Next is the father's day card. Each year I send these to my parent's shared home. Should I send them to my dad's workplace in case mom has been throwing them away?

I'm also wondering, especially from the perspective of a parent like Sluggo or others, if it would be considered rescuing behavior to mail the book Stop Walking on Eggshells to dad's office? I don't want to rescue but to inform dad about self-help options that I'm pretty sure he's clueless about due to decades of isolation and abuse from mom.

If I don't send the book or any type of resource you might recommend for him, and I'm considering this a one-time send, I feel like a bad person for withholding valuable information that helped me and might or might not help him, even save his life. His choice. I guess the feeling is that all my life I've wished I could help him; now I finally am able to help myself and actually have a way of pointing out options for dad but am conflicted because the general advice is don't rescue the victim and avoid Karpman triangle. Still new to all this. Thank you.
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« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2021, 02:04:53 PM »

Hi Teabunny, quick thought:

Excerpt
On Monday June 14 I plan to mail the usual birthday card to my dad. Next is the father's day card. Each year I send these to my parent's shared home. Should I send them to my dad's workplace in case mom has been throwing them away?

Why not mail one to each location? I.e., send two b-day cards, one to home and one to work, and same with father's day card. You could consider whether you even need to "explain" it to anyone... I mean, just doing that, with no explanation, could "say" a lot to your dad.

If it comes up, and you think your mom may be listening in (whether in person or "through the grapevine"), a simple "just wanted to make sure Dad got them!" would be more than enough. You don't need to justify that kind of choice to anyone.

I'm sorry you're even in the position of worrying whether your mom has been blocking your expressions of caring to your dad.
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« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2021, 06:37:31 PM »

Excerpt
my dad occasionally seems to think that I don't want a relationship with him (he may think I'm angry with him for siding with mom, over what I don't even know) and I believe mom is probably talking trash to him about me the same way she talks trash to me about him. Triangulation. Karpman triangle. Possibly she's telling him I don't want him in my life but I do. Anyway if you get any info whatsoever from your ex-wife about your two oldest kids' feelings towards you, it may or may not be useful to question that info and only go with that the kids tell you themselves. I wish I could tell my dad that but, heh, we can't seem to have an independent conversation.

Thanks T Bunny. And want to let you know I can't speak for your dad but he may desperately want a relationship with you but may feel so awkward as he's so used to having your mom lead the conversation over the years he doesn't know how to be himself anymore.  He feels awkward, almost like a small child now.  At least that is how it was for me the first 2-3 years after divorce. 
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« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2021, 09:15:44 PM »

Hello - I had such a similar relationship with my dad, as you’ve described with yours.  And, I’m nearly the same age as you, also with a wonderful partner who helps screen my mom’s messages. My dad has recently taken steps to separate from my mom and her abuse.  He and I now have the freedom to have an adult relationship, and it’s wonderful.  I love having him in my life - it’s not always easy, but it is wonderful to have a parent who is more emotionally available, supportive, and resilient than I had when I was only communicating through my mom.  I share your fear, too - we don’t let my mom know at all how much we see each other and talk, and there were many times before when my mom would crash “father daughter” time or generally make it difficult to schedule, and monopolize phone calls that were meant to be family calls.
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« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2021, 11:20:07 PM »

Welcome Koala323! Nice to meet a newbie in a similar situation. I haven't spoken to either parent since I can't remember when in 2020, besides only 10-15 minutes call to dad's office in March 2021 (to notify him that I won't be seeing/responding to mom's abusive messages so he should contact me himself in an emergency). This is because mom has gotten so upset at the times I've planned to call them both - Christmas, her birthday, mother's day- that I haven't even dialed their phone. I'm happy to hear your dad made a healthy choice for your father-daughter contact. Does your mom get upset if you try communicating with your dad?

Kells76 great suggestion!! Don't have 4 cards but you pointed me to an idea. I can use my new family email (that's screened for abusive mom messages) to tell both my parents in the next update email that I'll be mailing cards for dad. This acts with integrity and takes back some control so at least dad knows cards are coming and mom knows he knows, regardless of what they each decide to do after that.

For the book, I think I'll likely mail it to dad's office because I researched more details and that seems safely within bounds of "coach" or empowerment rather than "rescuer"?
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« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2021, 11:38:25 PM »

Yes, she gets upset.  Just today my mom got jealous/passive aggressive, and accused me of “covering” for my dad when she found out I saw him last night. But my dad also moved out so it’s easier to keep it from her, which has opened up the relationship between us. 
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« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2021, 11:43:33 PM »

I don't think I ever explained context in this thread. So I called my dad at work in March for, I think, the first time in my life. Because besides notifying him about him being emergency contact now, I also needed to know whether my parents had actually separated as mom claimed that they had and I wasn't sure where to mail things or what was going to change (dad told me they "weren't even close" to separation and still live together). Also to tell dad that mom's assertion (in a voicemail she left for me) that my life insurance policy wasn't being paid anymore was false and I'd contacted my agent to confirm. This opened up a crack in the door that made me ponder if dad and I could ever communicate regularly or not. And should I try. So I'm still deciding and progressing.
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« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2021, 11:30:26 AM »

I'd mail the card to your dad at work. Who knows what your mom would do with it. If he wants to bring it home and share it with her, that's his decision.

I would keep it light and only write on it what you would not care if your mother saw it.

I would not send the book to your dad. Your parents have a very strong rescuer-victim bond. My parents were at their happiest together when they bonded together against a common persecutor. It's a main bond- keeps them from looking at the issues between them.

I too felt I had "seen the light" about BPD and wanted to share this with my dad. Like your dad, he was intelligent and had access to the internet. He did not respond kindly to being given this information. Likely he knew and didn't want to be confronted with it. His response was to get angry at me.


It's also not the child's role to coach a parent. No matter how old you are, you are still a child to him and he likely won't take advice from you.

 
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