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Author Topic: You can go but you better not!  (Read 5431 times)
Guts42
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« on: June 02, 2021, 09:00:28 PM »

I've really only suspected that my wife has BPD for a few weeks now... 4 weeks and 2 days to be exact and what a ride it's been!

I have the opportunity to visit some friends I haven't seen in about 8 years.  The stars have aligned and all three of us can get the time off and have the means to get together (coming from a few different states).

I've let my wife know that we've been wanting to get together for months now and like most things of this nature it came together quickly.  We all managed to find flights at reasonable prices for three weeks out.

My wife was very encouraging through the planning process.  I kept her up to date the whole time.  I even suggested I talk to the kids about me going before I finalize plans and she said "no, let's not bother them until it's a sure thing."

So, today we all booked our flights (I even asked my wife one last time and she said to go for it!)  At first she seemed nervous about having the kids for the 3.5 days... then apprehensive, then resentful and then fiercely angry all in the course of 4 hours.

She says that I never think about anyone else, just me, and that the thought process was "my friends want to this trip, I have time, I can afford it, so I'll do it" and I had zero consideration about how the kids might feel.  She also claims she said "okay" only because she didn't think it would happen.
"I want you to go but just know I'm not happy about it and it's going to be really hard on me and the kids.  Once again you get everything you want at my expense!  We're also supposed to visit all 50 states together and you're going without us!!"  (I've been to this state before...)

My wife then left for dinner with our daughter and came back like everything is fine.  She's downstairs right now while I finish up some work.  I have a feeling we're going into round 2 of this.

I'm talking with my therapist tomorrow about how to cope with this sort of thing.  I haven't seen my friends in so long... in fact the last time she "allowed" me to see any friends outside of work was about 8 years ago and she tagged along.

Any suggestions or tips on how to handle this?  It feels like manipulation... I don't want to explode but reflecting back on the years she's done this every time I'm about to go somewhere without her.  I even missed my grandmother's funeral.

I am pretty sure this marriage is done but I want to remain civil.
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Guts42
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2021, 07:03:19 AM »

Well round 2 was bizarre.

It flipped around all over the place but the final accusations are that I didn't do enough to comfort her and didn't have a plan to console the kids.  It's 3.5 days.  I wanted the kids to talk to their therapist about it before I booked... But that doesn't count?

She tried a lot of the usual scripts but I'm not playing along and that just made her angrier.  I used the "I'm getting this from you" and "I'm getting angry, I need to walk away for a few" and it just enraged her more.

"I didn't think you'd actually go"
"You're locking me and the kids in the house while you're gone!!"
"You don't pull your own weight around here!  I have to carry everyone because I'm empathic!"
"I don't know what I did so wrong!"
"I didn't think it through so you're right!! This is all my fault!!"
And my favorite:
"I wouldn't have said no even if I had thought it all the way through!"

Now I'm actually worried about her creating a "crisis" while I'm gone to either lure me home ahead of time or to prove a point.  I told her that I thought it'd be okay because she has friends and family near by and she cut me off by saying "you're right!! It doesn't matter if you're hear or not!"
I am starting to worry about the kids while I'm gone, not because I'm gone but because their going to be alone with their mother.

While planning this trip one of my friends recounted how everytime I went somewhere without her she'd constantly text, call, ask where I was, when I'm coming back, that she's having a panic attack and this was before we even living together.

I don't know what to do.  I desperately want to see my friends.  Planning this trip involved the first time I've talked to a non work/family/medical person on the phone in 8 years.

I know she's terrified of me leaving her but this behavior is just pushing me closer and closer to kicking her out.  I work from home, a full time job and a freelance schedule.  I take the kids to/from school and just about everywhere.  I don't "need" her but up until recently I've wanted her and now I'm not so sure.
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Ozzie101
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2021, 07:42:14 AM »

Hi there, Guts! Welcome new member (click to insert in post) I haven’t had a chance to welcome you yet.

I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. I know from several years of experience what this can be like: something you want to do or that should be a pleasant time is marred (if not entirely derailed) by our pwBPD’s disordered behavior. Many times, I’ve missed out on something I want to do just to avoid the inevitable episode.

This is a pattern I’m slowly but surely breaking.

This is going to sound insulting to our adult pwBPDs but in a way, it’s like dealing with a small child or toddler. The child wants something. He throws a tantrum. Dad gives in. What’s Kid going to do next time he wants something? A pattern is born. If Dad suddenly changes his reaction and gives in, what will Kid do? Chances are, he’ll ramp up the tantrum to epic levels, thinking that will do the trick.

In this case, it sounds like major abandonment issues and separation anxiety — so common with BPD. Like most of our loved ones, she doesn’t have the emotional maturity or coping mechanisms to handle her anxieties in a healthy, productive way. So it comes out like an emotional geyser. Add super-intense emotions and it equals something not fun for you.

I can’t tell you what to do. But it sounds like you know that being isolated from your friends/family isn’t good or healthy. At some point, while trying to please our loved ones, we can lose us. And that’s harmful to us and potentially deadly to a relationship. It sounds like this trip is very important to you and it would be a very good thing for you to go. Around here we tend to be caretakers. It’s so important to remember to also take care of ourselves.

How are you with boundaries? With expressing empathy? Validating her feelings?

Sometimes it takes holding the course with a firm but gentle and empathetic manner.
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Guts42
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2021, 08:10:30 AM »

Thank you so much for the welcome!  I feel like I haven't been on here in months but it's really only been a few weeks!
Time gets all wibbly-wobbly sometimes.

I agree - it's abandonment issues for sure- she's even said that.  She's allowed to go do things with friends but I am not.  I'd plan something (years ago) to only have 'something' happen that has to be dealt with "right now!!" or else... but I'm at the point of letting "or else" just happen.

I feel like I spend most of time validating her feelings.  I'm her sounding board and have been since we starting dating.  I've done a lot of reading over the years on the importance of just listening and not trying to "solve" everything.  I let her cry, laugh, scream, etc and historically I just take it.  I never try to invalidate her feelings, always try to be encouraging.

You're right, it feels like dealing with a child.  A few people have pointed that out.  I've been keeping a log since I first started suspecting BPD and read 'Eggshells.'  It's been really helpful looking back and seeing a pattern - even a micro one.

I think I have to go on the trip.  Not going is giving her the ultimate reward for the behavior.  My only concern is that she'll try to get the kids to cry and act out before I go to either make me feel more guilty (hey it's a guilt trip!) or keep me from going.  She knows how much I love being a dad (almost every handle I have uses some form of "dada" in it).  My kids mean everything to me.  I want them to be safe, happy, and well adjusted.  I know in the long run me going is probably good for them but it might be hard to explain that, especially with their mother spinning.

Of course the kids won't want me to go... so how I do explain it to them?
My wife has already framed it with me as "how the hell do you expect them to understand 'Daddy's leaving you so he can go have fun without you!'?"  They're 8 and 10 and I've only ever been away for work (once or twice) and a house hunting trip.  I have plans to call every night/video chat if possible.  I said we can talk to them about what I can do before/after to help them feel okay with and that really pissed her off.

I'm confused and I think she's conflicted.
Round 2 started off with what felt like a concession/acceptance: "for your trip how about we get them build-a-bears with your voice in them so they can hug it.  That's what my military friends do when their husbands are deployed."*
"That's a great idea!  That'd be fun!  We haven't been to the mall in so long!"
I guess that was the wrong answer because then it flipped around and turned into anger...

Not that it matters... but on this trip the plan is to pig out on junk food, watch some old school horror movies and do some mild day hikes.  None of us drink, most are married, and we're staying at a cabin one of them owns.  Nothing crazy or scandalous just reconnecting with some friends that haven't gotten together for nearly a decade.

*Yes, I see her comparing me being gone for 3.5 days for a few day hikes to a lengthy and dangerous military deployment.  It's insulting to my military buddies but also points out how she's perceiving me being gone for any amount of time.

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GaGrl
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2021, 08:46:32 AM »

Children at 8 and 10 years old are quite capable of accepting that a parent goes away for a few days with friends. It's a good example to set for them -- friendships are important, and friendships are for a lifetime and need to be nurtured.

From the way you described your wife's attitude toward leaving the children, I thought they were in the 3-5 range. Her messaging is off-target for their ages. They are more mature than she is treating them. Lots of abandonment projection going on there.

My advice is to go on the trip, and turn off your phone for the hikes. Make a call home, but give yourself space to enjoy your friends.
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"...what's past is prologue; what to come,
In yours and my discharge."
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2021, 08:57:27 AM »

This is a textbook example of what happens with my uBPDw in these instances.  We could swap our usernames and I would believe that I had written it myself.

Back when I was flying blind and didn't know what I was dealing with I would get sucked into these things and try to discuss and settle it as a rational human being and that only made matters worse.  As time went on, after experiencing several of these instances, I came to realize that the person I was dealing with was not rational herself, so trying to respond as such is fruitless.

It sounds like you have your head wrapped around the situation pretty good.  I can tell you what I do these days, but what I do here may not be right for the particular person you're dealing with as all of our circumstances are unique.

1. I start making notes for myself about what I said and when because I know at some point I am going to get told that I either did or did not say something (basically, whatever I did in real life, I am going to be told the opposite happened).  The notes help keep me sane and it helps me to stay on track because you can only keep so much sorted in your head once the artillery starts flying in.  I don't keep the notes so I can argue with HER (because there will never be a victory) -- I keep the notes for ME.

2. Once plans are made and approved, I stick to it.  I don't entertain an energy-draining barrage of back-and-forth.  It is fruitless and only escalates things.  Just like in physics, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" -- so, when I can, I squelch any action I am about to take that is going to produce that opposite reaction out of her.

3. When the confrontation comes, I simply lay it out that, "Everything was planned and agreed to before I proceeded.  Now other people have made their own plans based on mine and it would be extremely unfair and selfish to everyone involved to do a u-turn now" and I leave it at that.  When the artillery comes flying in, I  simply say, "I have stated my case, the decision is made, the time for discussion has passed, and I am proceeding just as you are allowed to proceed in peace whenever you decide to go away on your own".

4. After I'm gone, when the inevitable fabricated crisis rears its ugly head (and the intent is either to spoil my trip or to cause me to come rushing home), I tell her, "I have every confidence that you can handle this crisis without me.  If I did not, I wouldn't have gone ahead with my trip.  Let me know how it works out".

As to intent, you'd have to decide that based on your own personal experience.  In my case she's making me choose between her and someone else, pure and simple.  In every instance that is what it boils down to because everything is set up and approved and then the bomb gets dropped.  All of her excuses that you stated, I have heard exactly the same.  These days my answer to any one of them is, "okay", and that's it.  I'm sure at this point it comes through that I'm pretty burned out!  I know there is this school of thought that every event like this should involve a long circuitous process of diplomacy through validation and I simply don't have it in me anymore.  When I have tried "validation" it turns into something she will latch on to, distort it, and turn it into another tool to say that I know I'm doing wrong and shouldn't have gone.  

With respect to children, I'm in the same boat as you.  They're even just about the same ages.  I spend a lot of time with my kids joking and playing and would do anything for them and when she uses them as a tool by making statements like you have shared, I simply reply that is not true, part of becoming a well-rounded adult is learning that people need time together and time apart, and this will be a learning experience for them that will make them better.  If she does try to use them as a tool, that will no doubt hurt, but keep in mind that being a child is a very dynamic thing.  They are learning and growing daily and who they are today is not who they will be tomorrow.  Have a big-picture view.  In the moment they may not like what is occurring, but if they see mommy going off the rails and daddy keeping a level head and being reasonable.... five years from now, ten years from now, they are going to look back on these events with the benefit of experience and realize who was playing what role.

Go on your trip and detach for a few days.  You have earned it.

    
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Ozzie101
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2021, 09:19:55 AM »

My gut response is that, yeah, you should go. I would also really read up on boundaries and SET to prepare.

It’s admirable that you’re such a caring, involved dad! But it is good and healthy for kids to know their parents can go away for a trip and they’ll be fine. Sounds like your wife is projecting and embedding her fears and anxieties into the kids. Not unusual, but not healthy either. And difficult to deal with.

Sometimes, making too big an issue about something or talking a lot about something can actually increase a child’s anxiety. It’s sort of like telling them “the adults are worried about this so you should be too.” I’m reminded of a family story. At a big family gathering when I was a toddler, I fell down a few steps. No one reacted other than to look over at me but since I got up and kept going, that was it. My great-aunt was amazed that I hadn’t started screaming and crying (her daughter had been extremely dramatic as a child — partly because her parents tended to overreact). My grandmother just shrugged and said “she wasn’t hurt. If the adults stay calm, she knows she’s ok.”

Chances are, though, your wife’s anxieties will make it more complicated with your kids. I’m sure others will have good advice here. Personally, I would keep things light and easy with them. Don’t invalidate any anxiety they might have, but keep things matter of fact and confident. You’re coming back. You know they’ll be fine. Maybe even giving them something to look forward to when you get back?
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kells76
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2021, 09:52:09 AM »

Great points from Ozzie101.

Kids' brains are designed to draw interpretations of emotionally ambiguous situations from the adults around them.

Sadly, your W is "vibing" that your trip is a 9/10, and "abandonment is imminent".

Countering those "vibes" with your "calm, confident, chill, pleasantly in control" 2/10 will help your kids regulate.

They're probably already old enough to process some basic examples of "you know how different people are afraid of different things? I hate clowns but not snakes, and Uncle Phil hates snakes but not clowns. Well, people are the same about trips. Some people worry about other people going on trips, some people don't. You can check in with yourself and see how you feel about people going on trips. What are some trips you've liked? What are some trips you didn't? What is it like for you when Grandma comes here, goes away for a while, visits again, and leaves again?"

Also consider asking if they want souvenirs... IDK, maybe that's leaning too close to manipulation, but I kind of think it isn't.

It shows that you will be thinking of them when you are away temporarily. That seems like a really big deal of a message to send.

And, it gives them a positive association with your trip: "Wow, I can't wait to see the Beanie Boo that Dad brings back for me!"

...

I also think Couper had a great line:

Excerpt
"I have every confidence that you can handle this crisis without me.  If I did not, I wouldn't have gone ahead with my trip.  Let me know how it works out".

I agree with both -- you need to go.

Maybe schedule follow up with the kids' T's after you get back... check in to see if Mom has done a number on them with making your trip a 9/10 instead of a 2/10, or if the kiddos have tracked with your "vibes" more and are doing fine.
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2021, 09:54:27 AM »


Hmm....I think you should go.

Also just agree with most of what your pwBPD says.

"Yep..Daddy is going away to have fun.  See you in a few days..." 

Best,

FF
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2021, 09:56:00 AM »


Souvenirs is a great idea.  Especially if "gift giving" is a love language.

My last trip I was deliberate to have something for everyone...it really seemed to hit the mark.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2021, 11:29:25 AM »

In the event you have not already seen it, you might find more inspiration in this recent thread:

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=285200.0
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Guts42
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2021, 02:39:23 PM »

Thank you all so much for the replies!  I'll admit I'm a bit teary from it.  Lately whenever any is nice to me I find myself getting a misty eyed.

Some AMAZING advice here!

We talked to this kids this morning and it started off okay... but then spiraled out of control.

My youngest was actually okay with it (6).  He seemed sad but then said "as long you take one my pokemon and take lots of pictures and send them to sissy's phone so I know you're both safe I'll okay.  I think you will have a happy time with your friends."

Not the answer my wife wanted.  So she turned to our daughter.
She seemed sad but okay with the idea and then my wife said "it's okay to cry."  It was like someone scripted it.  Boom.
TEARS.  "Dada please don't go!  I don't want you to go!  What if you get hurt and I'm not there with you?!"
I was fuming.  This felt like a setup.
The kids are dismissed and my wife says, "I just wanted you to know what it's like when you're not here and how it's going to be.  But you go- have fun - I'll make it okay like I always do!"
-Silence-
Then she says "what are you thinking?"
"I think I have a lot of work to do, I'm really upset, I want to cool down so I'm going to get to it."
"F&CK YOU!"
"You know what, f@ck you too!  I'm done playing this game with you.  I'm not doing it anymore."
Well that didn't go over well.  I lost my cool... but hey I made it 10 years so that's good right?
"What do you mean?!"
"You paraded the kids' emotions in front of me to manipulate the situation.  You do it all the time!  And I'm done.  I'm done with you."
Yup.  That was dumb.  That was really really dumb.
"You're just throwing a baby fit because you didn't get your way!  Where are you going?!"
"I'm too upset to continue this conversation, I've already lost my cool.  I hear our daughter crying and I'm going to check in with her."
"No"
"Yes I am"
"Fine!  You know, this is what YOU wanted!  All of this, this life, well you got it!"

My daughter overheard us fighting- for the first time and was really upset.  She was worried that we were fighting because of her.  I consoled her and told her it's not her fault, it had nothing to do with her, she didn't do anything wrong!
My wife storms upstairs and wraps her arms around my daughter.
My daughter sobs, "I just don't want you guys to split up!"
I glare at my wife... where did she get that phrase from?  In all my frustrated moments I have never hinted or even vented about anything going on with us.  My wife does frequently threaten to leave, so I wonder if that's it?

I internalize that I made daughter cry and it's a deep cut.  I feel so guilty.
My wife jumps on this and by the end of the conversation I'm apologizing- feeling so defeated for making my daughter cry.

I've had some time to reflect.
I absolutely should not have lost my cool.
It's also pointless to point out the manipulation, that's just playing her game.
However, I feel it's not fair to drag the kids into making the decision about me going on this trip.

I like Couper said... all of my friends have made arrangements now that I have.  She agreed to this.  It's done.

I don't know what to say to her though.  I'm at a loss.  I feel beat up.
I love her.  I do.  But this isn't okay.  I'm not innocent here (obviously!) but I can't take it anymore.
I'm going to try to get us into couples therapy... but I think it might be too late.
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2021, 03:48:37 PM »

Been there, done that, have the t-shirt.  It's unfortunate, but you can't undo what's done.  Take your own words to heart -- "I'm done playing this game with you".  It's easier said than done, but the more you practice not engaging and returning fire, the more reflexive that will become rather than what comes naturally.

To make lemonade out of lemons, doing that from here on out, your kids will notice the contrast.  Once they have seen both sides of the coin they will realize that you are making an effort not to have such an exchange again.  Even before I knew what BPD was, I came to recognize a long time ago that when my wife does something like this, she is setting up the situation to paint herself as the victim.  That is the point of every action leading up to the altercation.  Even after realizing that, it took more exchanges like you outlined above for me to figure out that the trick is to take away her victim card.  I think you get the idea.  It won't come second-nature right off, but I suspect you will have plenty of opportunities to practice it in the future!

There is no law that says you have to respond the instant something is thrown at you.  Hold your tongue, take a deep breath, and the discipline you need to follow through civilly will follow and when she sees that she can't trigger you it will be like taking away her ammo.  
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2021, 04:35:01 PM »

I need to chime in here because I too experience very similar situations and attacks.  Every single time without fair when I want to do something for me it ends in a fight.  When she wants to do something, no issues.  Unless what she wants to do directly impedes on what we had already discussed and agreed to.  Her being able to live her life on impulse and desire is completely okay because she has a diagnoses of BPD and thats normal for her.  But I am the stable one and should not have that.

Ready this thread is honestly like reading my own story!  Two kids 3 and 6. 
Divorce is most definitely in our future but what about the kids and their safety with her?  All scary stuff and wild to hear I am not alone in this.

This is a textbook example of what happens with my uBPDw in these instances.  We could swap our usernames and I would believe that I had written it myself.

Back when I was flying blind and didn't know what I was dealing with I would get sucked into these things and try to discuss and settle it as a rational human being and that only made matters worse.  As time went on, after experiencing several of these instances, I came to realize that the person I was dealing with was not rational herself, so trying to respond as such is fruitless.

It sounds like you have your head wrapped around the situation pretty good.  I can tell you what I do these days, but what I do here may not be right for the particular person you're dealing with as all of our circumstances are unique.

1. I start making notes for myself about what I said and when because I know at some point I am going to get told that I either did or did not say something (basically, whatever I did in real life, I am going to be told the opposite happened).  The notes help keep me sane and it helps me to stay on track because you can only keep so much sorted in your head once the artillery starts flying in.  I don't keep the notes so I can argue with HER (because there will never be a victory) -- I keep the notes for ME.

2. Once plans are made and approved, I stick to it.  I don't entertain an energy-draining barrage of back-and-forth.  It is fruitless and only escalates things.  Just like in physics, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" -- so, when I can, I squelch any action I am about to take that is going to produce that opposite reaction out of her.

3. When the confrontation comes, I simply lay it out that, "Everything was planned and agreed to before I proceeded.  Now other people have made their own plans based on mine and it would be extremely unfair and selfish to everyone involved to do a u-turn now" and I leave it at that.  When the artillery comes flying in, I  simply say, "I have stated my case, the decision is made, the time for discussion has passed, and I am proceeding just as you are allowed to proceed in peace whenever you decide to go away on your own".

4. After I'm gone, when the inevitable fabricated crisis rears its ugly head (and the intent is either to spoil my trip or to cause me to come rushing home), I tell her, "I have every confidence that you can handle this crisis without me.  If I did not, I wouldn't have gone ahead with my trip.  Let me know how it works out".

As to intent, you'd have to decide that based on your own personal experience.  In my case she's making me choose between her and someone else, pure and simple.  In every instance that is what it boils down to because everything is set up and approved and then the bomb gets dropped.  All of her excuses that you stated, I have heard exactly the same.  These days my answer to any one of them is, "okay", and that's it.  I'm sure at this point it comes through that I'm pretty burned out!  I know there is this school of thought that every event like this should involve a long circuitous process of diplomacy through validation and I simply don't have it in me anymore.  When I have tried "validation" it turns into something she will latch on to, distort it, and turn it into another tool to say that I know I'm doing wrong and shouldn't have gone.  

With respect to children, I'm in the same boat as you.  They're even just about the same ages.  I spend a lot of time with my kids joking and playing and would do anything for them and when she uses them as a tool by making statements like you have shared, I simply reply that is not true, part of becoming a well-rounded adult is learning that people need time together and time apart, and this will be a learning experience for them that will make them better.  If she does try to use them as a tool, that will no doubt hurt, but keep in mind that being a child is a very dynamic thing.  They are learning and growing daily and who they are today is not who they will be tomorrow.  Have a big-picture view.  In the moment they may not like what is occurring, but if they see mommy going off the rails and daddy keeping a level head and being reasonable.... five years from now, ten years from now, they are going to look back on these events with the benefit of experience and realize who was playing what role.

Go on your trip and detach for a few days.  You have earned it.

    
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2021, 04:40:44 PM »

In my experience couples therapy is pointless unless she gets help with herself first.
 My wife and I tried couples therapy a few times and dear god it was a PLEASE READ show.  Therapists most common response to my wife was " you are asking to have your cake and eat it".  Also, everything is and will be your fault in some way or another.  Hell even my wife cheating on me multiple times was my fault Laugh out loud (click to insert in post).  Do not want to discourage you because I firmly believe in looking back on your time with your wife and children and knowing that you did your best and tried everything you could.  That is a great place to leave and live a full life. 

So sorry you are going through this drama!

Thank you all so much for the replies!  I'll admit I'm a bit teary from it.  Lately whenever any is nice to me I find myself getting a misty eyed.

Some AMAZING advice here!

We talked to this kids this morning and it started off okay... but then spiraled out of control.

My youngest was actually okay with it (6).  He seemed sad but then said "as long you take one my pokemon and take lots of pictures and send them to sissy's phone so I know you're both safe I'll okay.  I think you will have a happy time with your friends."

Not the answer my wife wanted.  So she turned to our daughter.
She seemed sad but okay with the idea and then my wife said "it's okay to cry."  It was like someone scripted it.  Boom.
TEARS.  "Dada please don't go!  I don't want you to go!  What if you get hurt and I'm not there with you?!"
I was fuming.  This felt like a setup.
The kids are dismissed and my wife says, "I just wanted you to know what it's like when you're not here and how it's going to be.  But you go- have fun - I'll make it okay like I always do!"
-Silence-
Then she says "what are you thinking?"
"I think I have a lot of work to do, I'm really upset, I want to cool down so I'm going to get to it."
"F&CK YOU!"
"You know what, f@ck you too!  I'm done playing this game with you.  I'm not doing it anymore."
Well that didn't go over well.  I lost my cool... but hey I made it 10 years so that's good right?
"What do you mean?!"
"You paraded the kids' emotions in front of me to manipulate the situation.  You do it all the time!  And I'm done.  I'm done with you."
Yup.  That was dumb.  That was really really dumb.
"You're just throwing a baby fit because you didn't get your way!  Where are you going?!"
"I'm too upset to continue this conversation, I've already lost my cool.  I hear our daughter crying and I'm going to check in with her."
"No"
"Yes I am"
"Fine!  You know, this is what YOU wanted!  All of this, this life, well you got it!"

My daughter overheard us fighting- for the first time and was really upset.  She was worried that we were fighting because of her.  I consoled her and told her it's not her fault, it had nothing to do with her, she didn't do anything wrong!
My wife storms upstairs and wraps her arms around my daughter.
My daughter sobs, "I just don't want you guys to split up!"
I glare at my wife... where did she get that phrase from?  In all my frustrated moments I have never hinted or even vented about anything going on with us.  My wife does frequently threaten to leave, so I wonder if that's it?

I internalize that I made daughter cry and it's a deep cut.  I feel so guilty.
My wife jumps on this and by the end of the conversation I'm apologizing- feeling so defeated for making my daughter cry.

I've had some time to reflect.
I absolutely should not have lost my cool.
It's also pointless to point out the manipulation, that's just playing her game.
However, I feel it's not fair to drag the kids into making the decision about me going on this trip.

I like Couper said... all of my friends have made arrangements now that I have.  She agreed to this.  It's done.

I don't know what to say to her though.  I'm at a loss.  I feel beat up.
I love her.  I do.  But this isn't okay.  I'm not innocent here (obviously!) but I can't take it anymore.
I'm going to try to get us into couples therapy... but I think it might be too late.

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« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2021, 09:39:20 PM »

A big part of BPD behaviors also includes manipulation and control.

She's surely had many years becoming an expert manipulator.  You're doing a lot of stuff as father that mothers often do.  Yet when you want a mere few days, whamo!  After all, she managed to get you to apologize for normal stuff.

She isn't feeling in control and she's determined to make you suffer for it, whatever the consequences for the children.

Reminds me of what happened when I was engaged.  I had gotten passes for what could have been a once-in-a-lifetime event.  (It was a religious gathering, very orderly, nothing to criticize.)  Her parents refused to allow their adult child to attend, it would look improper, etc.  I was stunned, it made no sense then, but later I discerned they had PD patterns and had to control everything.
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« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2021, 06:08:28 AM »

Yup.  Manipulation and control.

My therapist had a good point- "Don't try to prove to her that she's manipulating you.  She's probably had lots of practice by now and is very good at it.  That's just playing into her game and she's going to win."

My daughter had an upset stomach.  We ordered food from a new place (fast food and shrimp tacos don't mix!).  My W of course made it not about the trip but the drama around the trip (the fight we had earlier in the day).  I wasn't in the room for the conversation but we do have a baby monitor the flips between hers and her brother's room.  It wasn't until I told my wife I wasn't listening that she came at me with, "she's scared we're going to sit up!  She's scared she's going to have to go back to regular school, that I'm going to have to go get a job and get an apartment somewhere and that life as she knows it is over!"

I felt my eyes glaze over.  My brain felt like it was crumbling like a old Vegas casino being demolished.  And of course she could see that.

"So- if you think you going on this trip is good idea when you're daughter thinks you're going to go and abandon us- then go but I don't think you should go."

I start to cave... "I think you might be right."
My stomach drops, what the hell did I just day?!  Her tone changes drastically.  I'm on the ropes, time to finish the job.

"No no don't pin this on me.  It needs to be your decision.  You're her father.  You know what's best for her."

I swear I can't feel my face.  I can't talk and I'm dizzy.  I started to rub my arm.  (I donated blood a few days ago and a nerve in my forearm got a little irritated.  I out together her new spin bike (concession prize for allowing my trip...) which irritated the nerve).
"Please don't hurt yourself!!!"
"My arm is sore"
I must have said it in the most pathetic and defeated tone.  She knew I was caving.  So she switched modes.  She knew she'd won.
"Do you want me to get you an ice pack or wrap the heating pad around your arm?"
It was the warmest, kindest tone she's ever used.
"No" I managed to whisper.
"I'm going to take a shower, when I'm back I want to resolve this.  You know I don't do well going to bed with unresolved issues."
I thought about it more and it gave me time to reset.  She was warm and kind and caring when she came back down.
"So... Have we resolved anything?"
"... I... Think I should plan on going.  I'll work with her to make sure she understands and is okay.  I want her to see that grownups can have friends as adults outside of marriage and that it's healthy to go on trips like this.  I'll show her a map of where we'll be.  She can help me pick out hiking trails and even suggest some stuff we get from the store for dinner or lunch one night.  I'll involve her in the process."
Yup. Wrong answer.  Her face twisted.
"Fine.  I have nothing to say.  In fact I'm going to brush my teeth and go to bed."
"Okay."
She sits there longer.  Fuming.  Rage boiling up.  "No, no I have nothing to say."
"Okay.  And what can I do to help you get ready and be okay with the trip?  I haven't seen my friends and it'll be good for the kids to see that I can have friends too."
"No!  You don't give a PLEASE READ about me!  You never do!  It's always about you!  If you cared about me at all you never would have said those things this morning!"
"I do love you and I agree my outburst was uncalled for.  However I'm not the one who threatens to leave.  I've had one outburst.  You've said you want to leave everytime you get upset."
"I know!  You're right!  I get it!  I'm horrible!  My whole family always tells me I'm too much and don't deserve you!  And now you're going to go on this trip and come back wanting a divorce!"

Ah back into a classic BPD script.  Thanks to "Eggshells" I'm prepped for it.  I stood my ground through the rest of her fit.

Now's the hard part... enduring the abuse for the next three weeks.

Thank you again for a the support!  Hearing that this is what a lot of you deal with is helpful (but also sad!)
We do have a couple's therapy appointment on the books but it's a week after I get back from the trip.  Who knows.
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« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2021, 06:52:56 AM »


As I read that "discussion"...I participate in a bazillion of those.

When it's that far off the rails, I decided to "flip it" and "hand it back to them".  Let them wrestle with their own dilemmas .

First of all...find something you and she can "agree on".  Get her onboard before moving forward.


"So..it sounds like you are suggesting what's best for junior is your primary focus."   "Is that right"?

If she won't commit...just stay there.

"Hey babe...this seems important to you.  What values are you trying to express?"  (get away from specific....."I want my child to have a toy.." is not a value.  How I go about giving rewards (toys) to a child usually comes from a "place of values"

Anyway...for this particular trip issue, it seems to me that "resilience" or "building resilience" in children (and adults for that matter)...is the real issue.

So gently try to guide discussion there.  Obtain agreement that more resilience is better than less.   Then ask how Dad going/not going affects resilience.

Don't provide answers...ask questions for understanding.

Best,

FF

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« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2021, 12:27:26 PM »

"I do love you and I agree my outburst was uncalled for.  However I'm not the one who threatens to leave.  I've had one outburst.  You've said you want to leave every time you get upset."

"I know!  You're right!  I get it!  I'm horrible!  My whole family always tells me I'm too much and don't deserve you!  And now you're going to go on this trip and come back wanting a divorce!"

Expect for her to bring this up again and again.  Your apology once is not enough in this PD.*  An apology will be demanded again and again, and still always simmering below the surface ready for the next time.

Notice how she's already primed the next argument post-trip?  "I knew you would want a divorce after you came back!  See how bad your decision to go was?  Let me rip you apart some more..."

So sad, but a person with BPD will feed off the dysfunction.

This is a side observation, but it's been commented that a BPD+NPD marriage can last... because they feed off one another's patterns.  But you're not Narcissistic and the beatdowns you get are crushing you.  No amount of appeasing will be enough unless you are fully compliant.

Not a good example for the kids of a normal adult relationship.  When they're grown and looking for their own adult relationships will they gravitate toward someone like you or like her?

* In the year before my separation and divorce I tried to apologize according to my then-spouse's demands.  Often I'd apologize 5 or more times.  She wouldn't like that I left something out and would demand I repeat it correctly to her satisfaction.  (Of course I'd then leave something else out, oops.)  Over and over and she never realized I was trying to teach her a lesson you don't dictate apologies.  They are sincere or they don't mean anything, once is enough, not to be rehashed over and over endlessly forevermore.  Our marriage imploded months later.
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« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2021, 12:52:47 PM »


This area of my relationship still has lots of sadness for me.  Probably going to stay that way (lots of other areas are much better)

I'm Christian so "asking forgiveness" is a central part of a Christian relationship (or at least was for me).

Until I asked forgiveness for the "wrong thing".  That was a few years ago...I haven't asked forgiveness since then..and doubt I ever will again.

I do say "sorry" for things that I do such as "spill milk" or if I forget to pickup milk (even after I promised) or things like that.  But I rarely...RARELY say sorry for relationship issues.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2021, 03:04:09 PM »

I'm new here and have been struggling mightily in dealing with my now ex-wife. 

I am absolutely floored by this discussion, there are examples after examples of behaviors in this thread alone that I have personally been through. 

*Trips with friends (business trips didn't trigger this)
*Getting the kids together for family meetings, pre and post divorce, making a big production to get a reaction from the kids
*Her only toolkit was negotiating via guilt
*Logic has no seat at the table in any discussion


I ended our marriage 3 years ago when I realized I had become a workaholic primarily to avoid being around her.  I realized that I was doing this while sitting in my office, I vomited into my trash can at this revelation.  Since then I've been relentlessly beaten up by myself, former friends and my ex wife.  I feel like I could have written every single line of this post and the responses.  I am gobsmacked...
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« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2021, 05:00:18 PM »

I am so glad your kids are already in therapy.  Those reactions were very disproportional to reality (obviously, encouraged by mom).

Dad is going away for 4 days to have fun with friends and then is coming back.  Normally a 6/8 year-old would say they would miss you and that would be about it. 

Children that age should not need daily pictures to prove that you are okay or a map of the hikes or any other kind of detailed reassurance that you'll be safe.  That is parentifying them - giving them the illusion that they get to determine whether or not you are safe enough.  It should be enough to reassure them that you'll be safe and have fun.  If they need more than that, they are seriously having issues (poor babies).

When me stepdaughter was about 7, her uBPDmom was also very obsessed with safety.  She wouldn't let SD ride the school bus (from their very safe neighborhood) because "it wasn't safe" for SD to be outside alone.  SD rolled her eyes and said "what does mom think will happen?  A garbage can will reach out and steal me?"  At our house, the kids had a radius they were allowed free range in.  SD knew mom was overreacting because we modelled different - and more realistic - behavior at our home.

I'm glad you are still going on the trip.  Don't give in to the manipulation.  Your kids will be FINE while you are gone.  Even if your W works them into an emotional tizzy, their therapist can help them reset.  They need to see that you left and came back and it's okay.  They need to see that you kept your word (to your friends, to them), that you can keep yourself safe, and that it is very important to have a life outside of being a spouse or parent.





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« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2021, 08:42:38 PM »

The kids seem excited... And that just pissed her off.

We've had a few more rounds of it and I've just accepted that I'm not dealing with a rational person so any logical arguments fail.  She constructs a new reality, a new excuse, or new reason I've been wrong the whole time.

She said the heart of the issue isn't whether or not I go.  The issue is that I asked permission without considering how she or the kids might be affected by me being away.  So then logically if I take care of that I should be "allowed" to go.  So I tell her my plans for making the kids okay with it and implement a few immediately...

Now it's back to "well you can go but I won't be happy about it but I said okay so it is what is."

Even if I arrange a damn spa weekend for her while the kids are away at her parents' it still wouldn't be okay.

She said it isn't about controlling me (and how dare I have such a low opinion of her...) But it's that I expected her to think of everything so I could go have fun.
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« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2021, 11:58:41 PM »

So her irresistible force (pressure) met your immovable wall (boundary).  Good for you, nice strength.

Most people don't realize what practical boundaries are.  It's not forcing boundaries on others, they can resist them and sabotage them.  Boundaries are what you do for yourself in response.

A very simplistic example is, "If you do or don't do ___ then I will or will not do ___."  For example, "If you are ranting and raging, I will take the kids to the park, to a restaurant, etc until things are calmer."  Read the articles in the above link for other examples.
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« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2021, 12:40:31 AM »

At this point I am done.
Looking for advice on how to end this relationship.  She's a master at blame shifting, gaslighting, manipulation.

I am done.
She's fulfilling her own prophecy.
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« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2021, 07:59:20 AM »

I wanted to clarify on that last post in case anyone has been here.

We've had several long talks.
I've met the condition of making sure the kids will be okay.  As I expected, they're fine with it.  Sad that Dad will be gone for a few days but fine with it

What concerns me is that she's going to guilt me into not going the day I leave because the kids will likely cry.
I can see it now...
"See!  They don't want you to go!". As the Uber pulls up and I start to open the door.  "You said you wouldn't go if they're not okay!!  Look at them!!"

During our long talks I did tell her that this whole thing is ultimately about controlling me.  She did some amazing mental gymnastics and elegantly laid out an argument that made it seem like I'm manipulating her.  I'm gaslighting her.  In fact the little things I do "wrong" are micro-aggressions (not bringing her vitamins during the day and at night).  Me not yelling and screaming or crying and staying "cold" is borderline abuse.  Because I refused to say anything back to her until I was in a place I could calmly talk I'm commiting emotional abandonment and abusing her.

I told her that her behavior reminded me of my mom (who had uBPD) and by the end of the conversation she'd convinced herself that I'm the one who was acting like my mom AND abandonment behavior like her Dad.

She frequently invoked her double standard- her intentions override my feelings but her feelings over ride my intentions.  So she can say whatever she wants but can later say "I didn't mean that!  You heard me wrong that's not my fault!" while me not responding made her feel abandoned so that's what I must have been trying to do.

I let her tire herself out thinking that it would be done.  We revisited the whole conversation before bed and talked until almost 1am... Where she turned everything on me.  "I know I pop off and say mean things but I have PMDD and I wouldn't tell or feel this way if you weren't being an a$$hole!".

She's also hesitant about couples therapy.  We each have our own intake forms to fill out... This is a therapist she's seen before but 'fired' because she gave her homework to do and said she felt "judged."
Should I mention my BPD suspicions on my form?

I suspect something will come up and "we" won't be able to go anyway.

So I'm done.  I need to go on this trip to clear my head.  When I get back I'm going to start the process of ending this.  The last straw, the thing that made it obvious there's no hope came up last night.
"I'm pretty self aware.  If I was manipulating you do you think I'd cry and scream and bring the kids in?  No, if I was I'd be calm and cool about it and you'd never know."

Any advice on how to handle the inevitable tears from the kids the day I leave?
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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2021, 09:39:32 AM »

It sounds as if these encounters over the trip have brought your wife's dysfunctions into focus for you. The trip will indeed be an opportunity for you to think about next steps with a clear head. As you move forward, we can help.I

As to the children crying when you leave...

Why do you expect them to cry? Is this typical behavior at your house? If so, why? Is your wife instigating it?I

I think you are beginning to get a sense of behaviors in your household  that don't happen in other households.
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« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2021, 09:49:24 AM »

At this point I am done.
Looking for advice on how to end this relationship.  She's a master at blame shifting, gaslighting, manipulation.

I am done.
She's fulfilling her own prophecy.

I've been here. 

I think one thing that I wish I knew when I started the separation/divorce process was just how vindictive she would be.  She went absolutely scorched earth, reaching out to all of my friends, coworkers and family and convincing them that I am a truly awful person.  I lost several lifetime friendships and have relationships with almost none of the people I was friends with at the time.  In hindsight, I wish I had a strategy for this but I also didn't know what I was dealing with (uBPD) and felt enormous guilt over ending the marriage.  At the time I felt like I deserved that.  I didn't.

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« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2021, 10:04:41 AM »

One think I noticed is that the given "reason" is often not the actual reason ( which is some fear or anxiety- fear of abandonment, fear of being alone, or just general anxiety) and the source of of the real reason is projected on to some external reason "the kids might be sad".

What you have probably done before many times is try to solve the "reason" or discuss it logically assuming that if you fixed the "reason" the issue would be resolved.

But it isn't solved because the "reason" given isn't really the reason, and if the reason is their own feelings, it's not possible to fix someone else's feelings for them.

Your wife's "reason" is that the kids will be sad and you have made efforts to deal with that. The kids will be fine and you know that. Many children have parents who travel for business or other reasons and yes, it might feel scary for them that mom or dad isn't there, but the parent knows they are being cared for and in safe hands and they learn to deal with that. One very important skill children need to learn to be capable adults is emotional regulation. It's a learning process and it needs to be age appropriate as we of course need to protect them as well. But they need to learn to manage the inevitable difficult feelings - the kid who won't play with them on the playground, the time they didn't get a toy they want. If we, as parents, step in to manage all their feelings, we take that learning experience away from them.

What if you were a parent that had travel as a work requirement. Your kids may cry, and then you assure them that Daddy loves them and will be back. Upon your return, bring a small present ( and something for your wife too). You come back, they see you come back. They learn that they will be OK. My father travelled sometimes for work and he always brought back something for me, not an expensive things, but a little souvenir or  something from his trips and yes, I missed him but I knew he'd come back and bring me a surprise. However, he also arranged for help with child care as my mother has BPD and her emotional reserves with small children are limited.

So you can deal with the "reason" but I think you know the actual reason is your wife's emotions and her difficulty handling them, and I imagine that  being an emotional caretaker- feeling responsible for someone else's feelings- is one of your superpowers if you were raised in a home with a BPD parent and that your default is to not do what upsets her ( or in her words, what upsets the kids). But remember that every time we step in to manage someone else's uncomfortable feelings we take away their opportunity to learn to deal with them themselves.  She knows it won't be as acceptable to say she's afraid of you going on the trip and so the reason is projected on to another more acceptable one " the kids are afraid". This may not even be conscious for her, it may be how she deals with her own fears.

I also wonder if she's afraid of being on her own with them without you helping. I think this is something you need to be realistic about. She may be an adult, and it's natural to expect that a mother can manage with kids, but depending on her emotional state, it may be more like asking a 12 year old to babysit for 4 days on their own and I think that is too much for a 12 year old.  My own severely BPD mother was a stay at home parent but needs considerable support.


I think you understand that as the trip gets closer, your wife's anxiety about it will likely increase and so is the likelihood she will try to find a "reason" for you to not go. This feels like manipulation and in a way it is, but it's also how she copes with her feelings and so far, this may have worked for her. She does need to learn to cope with them in another way, which means you need to allow her to do this and not step in to fix them. If she's not used to being alone with the kids without help, you may need to find a ways for her to have help without it being seen as "you can't do this". Maybe something like "you deserve some time to yourself so sitter is coming over to watch the kids so you can go for coffee with a friend" or something like this. If she's fine being on her own, then you go, come back with a small thank you gift for her, and a treat for the kids. I hope this works out for you and if it does not, then try doing shorter ones- a day out "with the guys" or something like that to ease her into it, but don't continue to not do things you really want to do ( within reason)  to ease her fears as this perpetuates the issue.
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« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2021, 05:49:45 PM »

I'm wondering whether there's anything you can do to minimize the chaos of the upcoming departure.  Have you reached out as father to the children's counselor and your concerns that their mother is likely to use the kids to make the trip virtually impossible to start, whether there is any way the counselor can fortify the kids beforehand?

On a recent thread PearlsBefore remarked that people with BPD (pwBPD) are known to make emphatic false claims (perceptions as "facts") appear very believable and credible.

... the pwBPD is able to combine false facts with GENUINE emotion. They aren't doing pathetic crocodile tears on the stand, they REALLY genuinely "feel" like their mother died in the blitzkrieg even if they still live with their mother and she's sitting in the front row... but with a pwBPD the listener's every instinct tells them that the story must be true because she demonstrates such genuine emotion recounting it. Good luck.
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« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2021, 06:57:08 PM »

Yes.  Actually their therapist and I should be talking either Monday or Tuesday.  I wanted to ask about how to prepare them for me being gone for a few days.

She (their therapist) has no idea about the potential BPD.  I'm wondering if I should express my suspicions?  I've been wanting to bring it up with her, especially after some of her screaming episodes that involved the kids.

On that note, I wonder if I should mention anything about her potential BPD to our couple's therapist on my intake form?

Oh and get this... There's now an official demand for my transgressions about the trip.  She's demanding that I schedule a bounce house for the kids and arrange a tattoo session for her if I decide to go.  Actually- it just evolved into "I want these things even if you go."
"If you're going to go it's going to cost you.  It's not about you going it's about what an a$$hole you've been.  If you're worried about broken bones or some stranger setting up a bounce house in our backyard while you're gone... Then you know what to do... But seriously it's not about you going."
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« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2021, 06:11:00 AM »

My post above discusses a possible explanation for how the "reason" or the consequences can change and why it is likely to escalate as her anxiety gets higher as you get closer to the trip. It's gone from "the kids will be sad" to more of a threat. " you need to buy me/us this".

This also has elements of the extinction burst when you stick to your boundaries. If one method to get you to change your mind doesn't work, then escalate until it does.

There's a book called "Understanding the Borderline Mother" which is sort of a characterization of the different personas a person with BPD might take on. It may not be widely read on the relationship board, but it may make some sense to the ways a pwBPD might escalate. My mother tends to stay in Queen mode, expecting people to accommodate her wishes. If that doesn't work, she can change to Witch mode- threatening. If that doesn't work then she goes to Waif. Waif is the hardest for me, as it's hard to see her feel so hurt, and be accused of causing her suffering. I don't think anyone would choose to hurt someone so it's very hard to see this.

When it comes to relationship tools, people use what works for them. Is this conscious manipulation or what they have learned works for them to manage their own feelings? It's hard to tell. But it may help to be prepared for these things, as if something has worked for someone, they tend to continue doing it.
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« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2021, 11:09:42 AM »

Thank you for the book recommendation!
I've been reading a lot lately.  I've got a book I've been meaning to read just for fun but all these great books keep popping up.
So far I've read "Stop Walking on Eggshells," "Hold Me Tight," and wrapping up "Braving the Wilderness."  There's a good chance your recommendation might bump my fun book (especially since my Dad recently confirmed that my mom was uBPD)!

I agree- I think at some points she's so confused because she really doesn't understand how irrational her behavior is.  It's hard to digest that though because she's intelligent and quick.  I think there are some elements of denial and unawareness here.  I keep that in mind as much as I can but at what point do I just walk away?  There's no having a rational discussion with her.  So I just give up and try to end the conversation as quickly as possible... not healthy but I'm at a loss now that I've realized I can't "win."

I'm coming to the heart breaking realization that I regret marrying her.  There were so many warning signs that I just ignored and thought were "normal" behaviors for someone with anxiety.
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« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2021, 11:51:29 AM »

If you are seriously considering ending the relationship, I highly recommend you read the book "Splitting".  I believe one of the authors was also one of the "Eggshells" authors.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand the material in this book when dealing with a possible D with a high conflict spouse.

You appear to be very early in your learning about dealing with a BPDw.  I wish I'd known five years ago what I've learned in the past few months...  I do believe there is hope for your marriage if you decide to continue but understanding her by educating yourself will take some time.  Just remember that intelligence and rational thought are two very different brain functions.  You need to come to terms with your wife having the emotional regulation of a toddler and a complete inability to think rationally when she has high emotions (which is apparently very often).  Understanding those two concepts should help you avoid JADEing and not take the tantrums personally.  When my two year old son starts screaming and hitting me, I don't assume I'm a bad person who needs to change... I try to calm him down and assume he is just going through the terrible two's.  When my wife did the same she ended up getting arrested, but that's a long story for another time.  While I was trying validation techniques then, I also did some JADE that escalated things.  Wish I could have that moment back.
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« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2021, 07:11:41 PM »

I'll check that one out too!

It's hard, as I'm sure everyone here knows to hold onto the "something isn't right here" feeling.  Today everything was almost perfect.  A trip to the mall and presents for everyone!  There was a subtle undertone that this was penance for me being an "a$$hole about the trip" but she seemed almost high... But I'll take that over the way things have been lately.

I also just learned that she's have a full psych eval in September.  She thinks she has ADHD and/or OCD and wants the official diagnosis.  What are the odds BPD could be diagnosed?
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« Reply #35 on: June 06, 2021, 08:52:22 PM »

Excerpt
It's hard, as I'm sure everyone here knows to hold onto the "something isn't right here" feeling.  Today everything was almost perfect.

Knowing to hold onto it, and doing it are not the same thing... and I have a history of failing miserably.  We went through months of hell (August-Jan) where I lost 35 pounds from depression/stress of dealing with her anger.  Then we had 3 perfect weeks, made me remember all the good... until she assaulted me and our 2.5 year old twins...  Even then I let her back into my heart... three weeks later she was arrested after a 20 minute rage that broke my toe and she did $5k of damage to our property.  I fight the urge to reach out to her every day...

My pwBPDw was assessed this past Tuesday, because her first assessment 7 years ago didn't say BPD.  It said comorbid BPD and ASPD which is much worse, but whatever.  She convinced herself that she is autistic and doesn't have BPD, after reading that women with autism are often misdiagnosed with BPD.  I personally have complete confidence that she will come back from this assessment with BPD.

If your wife has BPD and the psychiatrist is good, she will get a BPD diagnosis.  Does she admit to many of the symptoms, or does she deny even the symptoms?  Oddly, my W will admit to every symptom in DSM 4/5 but will deny it applies to any actual incidence of behavior.
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« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2021, 06:01:52 AM »

Guts, don't be disappointed if the eval does not come up with a BPD diagnosis. A goal of therapy is to help the person improve and gain some insights to their behavior, which is extremely difficult with people who have difficulty managing uncomfortable emotions and tend to project/deny as a protective mechanism.

To help someone, you can't have them get so upset they run out of the room and don't come back. While BPD might account for the behaviors, there are other conditions that go along with that, depression, anxiety- and it's possible the person doing the evaluation might start with that.

It's also possible they can't see the BPD. A person with BPD has a different public persona and this is all they may show at the evaluation. Most people outside our immediate family would have no clue about my mother, she presents herself quite differently in public. She is also not honest with others and that includes therapists. Because of this, therapy has not been effective with her as therapists can't get a good picture of what is really going on.

My mother is now elderly, and has assistance at home. She's been quite impaired with BPD and has always needed a lot of support at home and this was provided by my father when he was alive, but she can not be left on her own. Ironically, she's "aged into" it being normal to have assistance with daily tasks. A therapy session lasts about an hour, but the home health workers are there with her a longer time. BPD is most apparent to the closest relationships and is now evident to them.

This is not to discourage you from trying. Therapy has helped pwBPD but the person also has to be willing to receive the help. It may take the therapist several sessions to form the kind of relationship needed to work with a pwBPD. I would say, have hope, but don't be surprised if they don't say it's BPD at first. BPD is on a spectrum so you just may not know how your wife responds.
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« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2021, 07:59:26 AM »

Thanks NotWendy- I have a feeling her eval will comeback with exactly what she wants it to: ADHD and maybe OCD.  She's a master researcher and since reading up on traits of both conditions they've been "presenting" more.  The especially difficult one is this "executive dysfunction."
I don't invalidate I just say "that sounds awful" and leave it at that.

I'm hoping to talk to the kids' therapist today.  should I bring up my BPD suspicions about my wife?. I am deeply concerned my wife is projecting her fears onto the kids.

Also, I had a moment of clarity yesterday.
We were at a mall for the first time in a little over a year.  While the purchases were happening she was in a great mood!  Once they stopped and she recognized how crowded it was she shutdown.  I could see the panic.

Suddenly it hit me.  She has the emotional maturity of a 12 year old fighting with the hormones and responsibilities of a woman in her 30s with children under the age of 10.
And this person, this superhero who never really gets sick, shrugs of every injury, works two jobs, needs very little sleep, does most of the house work, and tends to your every whim without question wants to leave you alone for a few days for fun away from you.  To a 12 year old emotional brain that must be absolutely terrifying.  It's not the duration or a question of whether or not I'll come back- it's that I'll be gone AT ALL.  I couldn't imagine leaving my 8 year old alone for a quick grocery run... I can only imagine how my wife must feel about me, her personal superhero and servant, being gone for 4 days- the person who's made it okay to be "herself."  That's why offers from other people to help out or being around or check in don't matter.  If she falls apart- they won't understand and (in her mind) they certainly won't tolerate it.  Again, in her mind, they'll judge her, think she isn't fit to be a mother, maybe even call the police to take the kids away!  And none of it would have happened if I hadn't left... it's not reasonable to expect her to function without me!  I've made her dependent (she's said this multiple times) and now she has all these conditions (OCD/ADHD/etc) so it really really isn't fair!!

It all makes sense- well mostly.  In her mind anything that isn't fair for a spoiled 12 year old isn't fair for her.  Motherhood, laundry, homeschool... deciding what she wants to do with her life... That's too much for someone's whose emotions never left junior high.
I feel sick.  I feel like an 'a$$hole' for not seeing it sooner.

So what do I do with that?  How do I cope with someone who has the emotional maturity of a pre-teen?  
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« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2021, 08:14:13 AM »

sorry.. duplicate post!
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« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2021, 09:00:24 AM »


Bringing up stuff to therapists.

Bring up what you observe and stay curious.  Refrain from diagnosis or very specific stuff.

Maybe if you get in a discussion say something like "Hey..a buddy of mine suggested I read this book..I was shocked others had relationships just like mine.  Are there other explanations for this type of thing?"

Rather than..I read this..I know my partner is BPD...so you should (blank).

Best,

FF
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« Reply #40 on: June 07, 2021, 09:50:46 AM »

Let's put it this way...  Do you expect a therapist to know what the family dynamic is and be able to counsel the children well if no one tells what's happening day to day?  Maybe the kids are revealing things, but then again maybe not, not a complete picture.

As FF noted, it's probably not a good idea to throw out your conclusions of a diagnosis.  At first that may not make sense, after all, wouldn't they appreciate the input?  It might seem strange to us but many professionals don't like us to "play doctor".  But if you don't relate, to some extent, what's happening in the home environment how can the therapist help the children?

There are roundabout ways to clue in a good counselor, giving the facts and background.  "I was reading this book by Randi Kreger "Stop Walking On eggshells" and it really describes what's happening in our family, the chaos, the dysfunction, etc."

The message right now should be focused on describing the stresses to the kids, that they're facing a scenario where dad will be away for a few days and mom is making it like threatening the end of the world, her world.
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« Reply #41 on: June 07, 2021, 10:23:19 AM »

Suddenly it hit me.  She has the emotional maturity of a 12 year old fighting with the hormones and responsibilities of a woman in her 30s with children under the age of 10.


Guts, I think you are on the right track. You are not a jerk for not recognizing this. Most people won't- because some of her other attributes are not age 12, and personally, I think pwBPD can hide this well.

This realization for me was huge. For one, BPD was not known well when I was a kid ( I am middle age now) and so not known to my parents either, but my mother was receiving psychiatric help for something ( whatever they called it) off and on.

One issue growing up was resentment. Why wasn't my mother doing what other mothers do. It was natural to want a mom who acted like a mom- who wouldn't? And sadly, my mother was the recipient of that, especially in my teens.

One distinct memory was when I was discussing something I learned in school at the dinner table with my Dad. I was 12. He was very interested in what I was talking about, asking questions and it was a conversation between us. BPD mom began acting up, like a jealous younger sibling, interrupting, bringing the focus on to her. I had this odd realization that she was acting younger than I was but I didn't understand why. Like you, feeling resentful for what you do, I felt resentful for being disciplined in an age appropriate manner, yet she seemed to have no consequences for her acting out. We had rules for how to behave in my home, thankfully, but they didn't seem to apply to her.

I understood this better once I learned about BPD, and this has made all the difference in our relationship. I don't live with her though and that is a difference from being married.

Some symptoms of different disorders are similar. My mother's executive function is very impaired. She doesn't have ADD though. The cause seems to be anxiety. She gets extremely anxious when asked to do a task and this interferes with her following through. Rather than admit to this, she may refuse, act out, or enlist ( coerce ) someone to do it for her. This is something that can cause shame and low self esteem. She has volunteered to do things like bake cookies for a school function, bring something to a pot luck, make invitations to an event- and she enlists her kids to do these and then shows up with them saying she did them.

So back to your trip, and not to undo your plans but maybe consider how you might get some assistance for her in a non demeaning way. My mother wants to be seen as a competent grandmother. She did spend time with my kids when they were small, and there is no way I would ever leave her unsupervised with them. I don't think she'd deliberately harm them, but neither would I leave a person  with her emotional age (somewhere less than 12) alone with my kids.  She does not have the emotional capacity to manage children's antics.

And back to your wife's "reason". She's not likely to admit that she's scared spitless about being left alone with the kids- so she will come up with other reasons to avoid shame. Imagine if you asked the neighborhood 12 year old to be alone with them for several days. They would freak out. But you could ask a mature 12 year old to watch them for a short bit while you run to the store. If the kids are in school/day care for most of the time while you are out, or if you are home most of the time, then your wife may appear to be managing better.

And about your resentment. Yes, it makes sense to expect another adult to take on some responsibilities in the home, allow you to take the break you wish for. However, with BPD it might not be that kind of balance. Still, doing everything for them isn't good either. 12 year olds can do a lot, and she needs to take on some tasks or she won't gain competence. I know my father wanted to take the stress of my mother and so we did most tasks for her. But the consequences is that she doesn't know how to do some tasks and this exacerbates her BPD behavior as it impacts her self esteem.
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« Reply #42 on: June 07, 2021, 10:36:24 AM »

Hey Guts42...

In terms of bringing up your BPD suspicions to a professional...

Like FF suggested, there are "ways" of doing that without saying that. When we focus on labels, or diagnoses, or what the other parent is doing, no matter how bad... it creates a dysfunctional structure that can actually impede the professional from helping the family. It puts us into a drama triangle, where we are the persecutor/victim mashup role (because we're right, and we're just being honest and pointing out reality, and we're helpless to change things on our own), and we enlist the professional as a persecutor/rescuer mashup (can't you see how wrong she's being, please help save my family from her, you have the expert right information). Professionals aren't interested in playing roles in drama triangles, and if we choose to approach our real and valid concerns that way, we risk being seen as the problem.

So, how do we not shoot ourselves in the foot?

Excerpt
Bring up what you observe and stay curious.  Refrain from diagnosis or very specific stuff.

"I've noticed my kids crying and exhibiting anxiety when I go on a trip and leave them with their mom... it seemed to come and go... when I would talk to them, they seemed OK... what can I do better or differently?"

(notice what I did there?)

"I've noticed my kids seem to respond to my trip differently whether they're with me or Mom... is that normal? What can I do to help them?"

"My kids get stressed when they hear yelling or arguments... how can I work on creating a calmer house for them on my end?"

All of these statements: (1) raise awareness that there is a problem for the kids, (2) frame it as you taking responsibility for your part, and (3) includes the fact that Mom is a player in this (but lets the professional "connect the dots" on hmmm, how is Mom involved)

And as FD suggested...

Excerpt
There are roundabout ways to clue in a good counselor, giving the facts and background.  "I was reading this book by Randi Kreger "Stop Walking On eggshells" and it really describes what's happening in our family, the chaos, the dysfunction, etc."

The message right now should be focused on describing the stresses to the kids, that they're facing a scenario where dad will be away for a few days and mom is making it like threatening the end of the world, her world.

I 110% recommend that you read this article (linked at the end) by Dr. Craig Childress, addressing your very concern. He has GREAT specific ideas for communicating your concerns to practitioners, without painting yourself into a corner as the "blaming, accusing, fingerpointing, problem parent".

Because that's the double bind that pwPD's put us in -- if you don't say anything, their coercive control continues, but if you do say something, the suddenly you're the issue, you're the problem, you're blaming, you're rocking the boat.

Childress has incredible suggestions on how to "not play that game" while still "roundabout" sharing with professionals that there are serious problems in the family.

https://drcachildress.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Ju-jitsu-Parenting-Fighting-Back-from-the-Down-Position-Childress-2013.pdf

Let us know your thoughts on the article.
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« Reply #43 on: June 07, 2021, 11:25:30 AM »

Thank you all!

That's been one of my BIG concerns... being the finger pointer.
From the times we've interacted with the kids' therapist she always compliments us as great parents raising well adjusted kids!  So me coming in with "I suspect this!" would probably seem like a shock and risk making things worse.

Loaded the article in another tab- I'll read it shortly!

Her aunt is actually giving me a ride to the airport.  She's aware I'll be gone and has offered to help in any way.  My wife tends to refuse outside help so it might be difficult but I'm sure there's a way to suggest it gently.

NotWendy, you've described the situation so well again!  Quite often when my wife volunteers for something I end up having to do it and either takes credit or uses me as an excuse.  I often play the "idiot Dad" card for her so she feels better about situations.

I work from home (both jobs) full time.  My "official" office is a few states away.  She homeschools the kids but I'm involved A LOT - though she tells me I just make it worse OR that I could do everything without her (typical BPD, I know)

After having this realization about her emotional maturity I just feel incredibly sad.  Some of the resent I've been carrying is starting to melt away... it's just heartbreaking.  It means to me that she probably doesn't even realize she's manipulating things.  To her she's totally rational- sure a bit short tempered but it's "justified" because to her these situations are not at all fair for her.

Jumping into that article now.  Thanks again!
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« Reply #44 on: June 07, 2021, 11:31:12 AM »

Excited to hear what you think. NB you can substitute "BPD" for "parental alienation" in the intro of the article, and the dynamics are the same.

And, on page 3, in "know the narrative", you can substitute "spouse" for "child" and again, same dynamics, so same communication strategies to professionals will apply.
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« Reply #45 on: June 07, 2021, 12:46:57 PM »

Glad to be of help. One reason I post about my BPD mother is that I understand the connection between being raised in a BPD family and it's influence on our romantic relationship dynamics and our choices. While you may have some regrets about this marriage, consider that, in a way, the dynamics made you "suitable" for this situation, it felt familiar to you. It's certainly influenced my part in relationships and I refer to it for information that might help me and also share it when I think it might help others.

The shift from feeling less resentment to more understanding will help - whether or not you stay married- as since you have kids together, you will be in some kind of "relationship" regardless.

Another model I found helpful is the Karpman triangle. My observation ( and I think it's also documented) is that the pwBPD perceives things from Victim. The partner tends to be Rescuer. Each person can take on all 3  roles but if the pwBPD prefers Victim, then Rescuer can shift to Persecutor in an instance. Ex - she communicates distress over your trip. The expected Rescuer role is to save her from distress and not go. When you don't take on that role, you shift to Persecutor- hurting her as the Victim.

Suggesting she have help may likely be seen as you telling her she's not competent. So how do you do this from a different angle? With my mother, she tends to respond to feeling she's worth it, building up her ego. " I am providing a sitter because after watching the kids all day you deserve a break"

Or- here's a gift certificate for a pedicure. Maybe Ms. X can watch the kids so you can have a nice break".


This may feel manipulative, but really, it's win win if she gets a break and you get to go on your trip- and also win for the kids if they have fun with the sitter.
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« Reply #46 on: June 07, 2021, 01:22:18 PM »

Thank you NotWendy!  The parallels between now and my childhood are shocking.

And agreed- shifting from resentment to understanding has helped a lot- even in the last 24 hours.  I do know that I don't want to live like this.  It'd be easier if she were able to understand and be willing to change but I'll admit part of me doesn't even want to attempt.  Part of me just wants to be done.

The triangle is a fantastic analogy.  Discussions are never really "resolved" until she's rationalized her way into the Victim role.  She'll even revisit conversations I thought we'd 'finished' and rehash (read: beat a dead horse... or beat me with a horse it feels sometimes!) until I concede.  Growing up with uBPD Mother I'm eager to jump into the Rescuer role and by taking the blame I think I fit the Persecutor and Rescuer at the same time!  Like you said I felt comfortable in this relationship instantly.  I didn't understand why until recently.

Lol I often feel like the family's "Dark Knight."  Like when Batman takes the blame for a certain character's violent demise?  I tell myself "I can take it- if this makes the screaming stop and things get back to 'normal' I can take it."  I see now how detrimental that's been on our relationship and me as an individual!

I'm talking with my therapist (who suspected my wife's BPD from the jump) in a bit.  We'll probably talk about how to bring this up and what to do next.

Your mother sounds like my wife when it comes to help!  Any acceptance is to admit inadequacy!

How did you define yourself and break out of the child-of-a-BPD-parent mindset?  How does it affect your relationships today?
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« Reply #47 on: June 07, 2021, 02:39:21 PM »

I was late to the game- into adulthood before I learned about BPD. My mother's condition was a well protected family secret. As a teen, she blamed me for any problems in the family. I left home for college and assumed she was happier once I was out of the house. However, when I had my own children,  instincts made me wary of my mother, her behavior to us as kids was quite toxic and abusive, and there was no way I would allow her to be alone with them. I didn't have a name for why.

Several years later, my father became seriously ill and eventually passed away. During this time my mother's behavior escalated and I found BPD on the internet. She fit every criteria. It was later that her home health care team confirmed BPD although she has no idea I know ( she has signed consent forms medically but we don't discuss it)

I decided to start therapy over the grief with my Dad. Meanwhile I had been dealing with marital issues for a while and had no clue what to do. Even though my H is very different from my mother, there were similar dynamics and it was hard to find the connection until in my searching I found that how we were raised has an influence on who we end up with, and it became clear that I had emulated the enabling/ rescuer/ emotional caretaker role that my father role modeled, and in addition, it was my role in my family growing up. An MC suggested I look at my behaviors and I ended up in 12 step codependency groups.

I think the biggest impact for me has been working on my part in things. We can't change another person, but we can work on ourselves and if we are part of the dynamics, we can then change the dynamics, to a point. I think it's the best place to start, and see how things go. I also realize that some relationships are not going to work out. We have to all make our own assessment about how workable things are. My marriage thankfully is, but my mother is too impaired. We are cordial, but not close. There's no way to be close to her. However, working on my part has made me better able to have a relationship with less drama, less emotional hurt. If you can do the work on your part, and reduce the drama for your relationship it will have benefits whether you stay or leave. It's also a bit of a double benefit as you will also be able to manage your relationship with your parents with less drama too.
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« Reply #48 on: June 07, 2021, 03:05:56 PM »

The version of "you can go but you better not" had a different twist to it for me. H is chief wage earner, and was not available to watch the kids or simply refused to, with the reasoning that he worked more than I did and so didn't have to. I did get to go on some work related trips for me as they were essential. I also spent time as a stay at home parent and during this time, didn't go anywhere unless I took the kids with me. I had friends who did fun things "with the girls" and their husbands helped, but I could not do them. H's way of making it hard for me was to not be available at all, or just refuse. It was  passive way and never looked like he was actually doing something to stop me, so as far as he was concerned he didn't stop me.

If I wanted to do something, I made sure I had babysitters. But it wasn't often.

It took the MC to help me break out of this one. What also helped was time. The kids grew up and as they did, they didn't need a parent around all the time. It was still hard to go anywhere, due to the patterns we were in and my habit of not wanting to rock the boat.  But the resentment was huge and I had to stop them.
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« Reply #49 on: June 08, 2021, 06:31:41 AM »

To clarify- "go anywhere" wasn't a big thing. Maybe an exercise class, or ladies' church night, or any short time. H had his hobbies and trips, but not me. The default reason was always " whose job is more essential"? And while there is truth in that, it's not like I was contributing nothing, being full time kids/house and working some of the time.

Getting down to the real, unspoken reason, he was afraid I would leave. There was no reason for his concern. I never considered it and there was no reason to fear this. It may have been a carry over from his own childhood. The best "insurance" for that was for me to be with the kids all the time and not go anywhere outside the usual routine.

The MC encouraged me to start doing things- like even going to a 12 step codependency meeting was a big deal. The anxiety on my part was big as I was afraid to upset my H. That's a carry over from childhood too as we walked on eggshells afraid of BPD mom. So you can see why we were both operating from our fears. The MC helped me work through them- showing me how when I walked on eggshells- I was contributing to the problem. However, the overall situation was much milder in terms of dysfunction compared to my mother. Still the tools work, working on our part works better than trying to change someone else. My H is also a good dad to the kids. The relationship issues were between us only.

For your trip though, the main concern is the kids; safety, and if your wife is able to handle the kids during this time. It's OK if the kids cry, and miss you. That's normal childhood emotions they need to handle. They can learn that if Daddy goes on a trip, he will come back. There are households all over where a parent travels for work sometimes, and even takes a trip and the kids are OK.

But safety - that's different. Will she emotionally unravel on the kids? We did have frequent babysitters when I was a kid, and I know now that it was likely because of my mother's limitations. When we were old enough to not need sitters, we were on our own with her. We saw her severely dysregulate a lot. Like trash the house, screaming, yelling. The next day all would be OK, my parents pretended nothing happened. We didn't dare ask - we were expected to pretend too.

Your wife may come up with all kinds of "reasons" why you should not take the trip, but they aren't likely to be the real reason and so solving them won't address whatever fears or emotions she's acting on. And you likely have fears of upsetting her that could be exaggerated due to your own childhood. The resentment that it isn't fair to you is real, but logically though, in this "triangle" there's only one real victim- and a victim is someone who can't be in control of their own decisions and needs protection- the children.

Will the kids be safe is #1 ( can wife really handle this?).
If not- how can you set this up so someone who can handle this is there to help? The aunt, any sitters? Play dates with friends?

Seems like leaning on the aunt is the best solution. Maybe ask her to step in more, and afterwards send a thank you gift to her.
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« Reply #50 on: June 08, 2021, 07:19:37 AM »

Thank you NotWendy!

You've hit the nail on the head.  I'm not physically worried about the kids but I am increasingly concerned about what damage she might do emotionally.  I think it's important that the kids learn to deal with uncomfortable (but safe!) situations that my evoke some strong emotions.  My trip was never about that but it's sort of turned into somewhat of a learning opportunity.

I think my W is fishing for emotions from the kids.   I normally handle bedtime, but last night she kept hounding my daughter with "I feel like something else is bothering you- I can tell - what is it?"  When my daughter relayed feelings unrelated to my trip my W pressed harder "I don't think that's it - there's something else isn't there?  I don't want to be here all night, so just get it out."  When my daughter didn't have anything else my W gave up and went to my son's room (who I'd already tucked in) and closed the door.  They talked briefly and when she came downstairs she seemed upset.

"What's going on with my big guy?" I asked.
"... I'm not sure if I should tell you..." and she gave me "the look."  It's this cold dead 'BPD' look that my Mom used to get.
"I'd like you to tell me, if something's bothering him I'd like to know."
"I just don't know if I should tell you- I don't how much I should tell you anymore and I hate that I feel like I can't be honest with you about things because I don't want you to think I'm 'manipulating the situation' or 'trying to control you.'  I just don't want to upset you."
It was everything I could do to keep from losing it.  This felt wrong.  With holding how my kids feel about something...
"I won't, you can tell me, I won't get upset."
She leaves the kitchen and I follow her then say, "it's really okay- I'm sorry I lost my cool but if something is up with him I really think I should know."
"Did you hear any of what he said?"
"No, I was down here"
"... he said he's having a hard time with your trip- that he doesn't feel up to it and it's making him sad.  He said that 'sissy will be sad and that will make me sad because Dad is gone and sometimes he silly with me and I will miss him and what if he is gone much longer than he says?'  I comforted him and told him it's okay and that barring something going wrong at the airport he'll be home on time..." she just stares at me... "... and...?" A long pause.  "A thank you would be nice!  I comforted him for you so you can still go..."
"Okay, I'm sorry I wasn't sure if that was all and I didn't want to cut you off, but thank you for taking that and comforting him.  I had no idea he was feeling this way-"
"well he's not going to tell you!"
"-we spent a lot of time together today drawing, playing drums, and talking about/watching our favorite show together.  I wish he would bring it up with me and it makes me sad he didn't.  I'll talk to him tomorrow about it and let him know he can tell me anything, even if he's worried it'll upset me."
"I don't think you should."
"What?"
"I think you should leave it- you'll just make it worse.  They're terrified of making you mad after your outburst- when you yelled at me for doing nothing."
"I want to apologize to him again and explain better.  I should tell him again that I lost my cool*- everyone lets their emotions get the best of them sometimes but that it isn't an excuse.  I want him to know he can come to me with anything and that I wasn't upset with him or his sister-"
"you made them upset for showing their emotions!"
"-and that it was strictly a 'me' issue and that it won't happen again"
"... I just don't think you should bring it up to him- what good will it do?  I know which way you're leaning about your trip.  I hate what this trip has done!  It's made me question myself and our relationship all because you yelled at me for nothing!"
"Okay, well it's not entirely decided yet but if he really feels that strongly then maybe I should consider something else."
BOOM.  Mood changed.  She relaxed and her whole body language shifted.  She switched back to 'normal' mode where she asks me to bring her water, night time supplements, snacks, etc while we watch tv.


*Yes.  I lost my cool.  I raised my voice at her while the kids where upstairs.  This is the first time I've ever done that.  Compared to the many times she's screamed at the kids and threatened to leave it seems like a minor offense.  Of course when I brought that up a few days ago it's "how can you hold that against me?!  I wasn't in control!  I was in the middle of a PMDD episode!  I can't believe you'd hold that against me!"

First thing, this seems suspicious.  The closed door, asking if I heard anything?  Right after not getting a response from my daughter... She's made fervent claims that she's not lying or making anything up... however a "did you hear any of that" has preceded both times she's told me the kids have an issue with the trip after talking to them behind closed doors.

Second, what he's saying seems like fairly normal pre-trip concerns.  Of course he'll miss me!  I'll miss him too!  I think that might be one of the points!  Quite often my wife will complain that she needs to get away so she has the opportunity to "miss you guys- I'm around you all the time!"  I think it's important for everyone to learn how to deal with being separated for a bit!

Third, my wife is going out with friends this weekend.  I've been encouraging her to go!  She's had a few girls brunch/lunches lately and I've always encouraged the heck out of it- even before the BPD suspicions.  She usually comes back in a better mood (which makes sense!  It's like spending time with friends away from family obligations is healthy or something!)

My therapist has suggested that I go.  She's also suggested that if anything happens while I'm gone to call the police to do a well visit check.  I have her aunt on standby and she's taking me to the airport.  My hope is that she's less likely to pull anything if an 'outsider' is involved.  I told the kids that she's taking me which means they'll get to see her for a little bit before I go which made them really happy.

I've made arrangements to meet all of her requirements (another tattoo and a bounce house) and lo and behold... it still isn't enough.  She's still saying things like "I know you don't care but I'm not happy about your trip.  I'm not okay with it and not because of the actual trip but because of the a$$hole you've been."

It feels like I stumbled and she's exploiting it.  I revealed my concerns about her behavior and then caved- which is my fault.  I backed down.  Once I realized I was in a 'no-win' I stopped fighting and just let it go.  Which may have been a mistake... I just wanted the verbal assault to stop.
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« Reply #51 on: June 08, 2021, 07:53:47 AM »

Hey...there is a turning point in the conversation I think you should consider.

"hey what's going on.."

"not sure I should tell you.."

(you "took a bite here")


Instead..decline the invitation.

"Very wise on your part to consider you words carefully.  "

Pause

"When you feel it's wise to share let me know and I'll see when I can clear my mind to listen."

Big picture here is you are not biting and kicking the can down the road. (also putting yourself in a position to agree 100% with your pwBPD...let them deal with consequences of people agreeing with them)

Anyplace in your relationship where you are like "please please (fill in the blank)..you can do it...come one...do it"

Way too much effort and it's likely "feeding" a dysfunction "need" of your pwBPD.

Note:  This is "tactical" advice on how to identify offers to "take bait" and avoid doing that.

Much of the other discussion here is "strategic"/big picture stuff.  Very important stuff.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #52 on: June 08, 2021, 08:28:16 AM »

Instead..decline the invitation.

Woah!  I didn't even consider this to be a 'trap' but looking back it obviously was and ran headlong into it.
I "begged" her to tell me so I set up myself up to be responsible for what she says not the other way around.

I'm constantly having Keanu "Woah" moments here...

I think that little bait tactic shapes the entire conversation into being a manipulation tactic... the kids may or may not be saying these things, she may be paraphrasing or she may be making it up entirely... however by setting up the conversation that way it becomes a trap and/or exerting control.  She gets to say whatever she wants because I just gave her permission to AND I "waived" my rights to be upset about it.  Sometimes it's impressive- especially if it isn't conscious.

BTW thank you Kells for the PDF recommendation.  I studied Aikido for a few years, so the mentality is something fairly tangible to me!
« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 08:33:47 AM by Guts42 » Logged
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« Reply #53 on: June 08, 2021, 09:16:30 AM »

Consider the concept of "projection" - dealing with uncomfortable emotions by making the source of them someone else.

and/or the idea that the "reason" wasn't acceptable so there has to be another "reason" that will work to get the results they want ( a form of manipulation).


Your wife does not want you to go. She does not have a rational reason to tell you not to go. However, it is more rational to place ( project) her emotions onto the kids, and it works better.

Here's the conversation and the evidence. Please follow this thinking with me.


he (child) said he's having a hard time with your trip- that he doesn't feel up to it and it's making him sad.  


This is her projection and it's actually her who is having the hard time. But she can't tell you this and so she's saying it's from your son. But it's probably not- and here's why. She is setting it up so you won't confirm it.



"well he's not going to tell you!"

"I don't think you should."

"What?"
"I think you should leave it- you'll just make it worse.


"... I just don't think you should bring it up to him- what good will it do?  






"Okay, well it's not entirely decided yet but if he really feels that strongly then maybe I should consider something else."
BOOM.  Mood changed.  She relaxed and her whole body language shifted.  She switched back to 'normal' mode



You can see here that she got the result she wanted by the sudden change in mood.


I have been through this version with BPD mom many times. The first is a statement coming from someone else. Then I get concerned that someone else is upset with me and try to fix it with them. The next statement is don't you dare talk to them.

We had an incident where we were getting together and my mother wanted to invite more people. Her fear is that I won't want to do that as  I wanted it to be just us.

Mom: "I have ordered some food for us from "X Restaurant"."

Me: "Thanks but it's just us so why not keep it casual and I can make something for us?" ( I have no idea at the moment that she wants to invite more people- so I am taking care of providing the food for us)

Mom: " I insist, I just want to do this and I hear the food is good there"

Me: "Ok but let me call them to ask what's on the menu"

Mom: " Don't you DARE call them" ( and the LOOK, I know that look)

So I have learned that when she says don't call, don't say anything, that's what I need to do and I call, and guess what they don't have an order, there never was one. She was trying to get me to agree to it and then say "oh so and so is coming too, I bought the food". You see, if she's in charge of the food, then she has more control.

The problem was that I didn't just say "yes" and asked more questions.


So for your wife- what she wanted when she said "Son is upset" was then for you to say "well I better not go" and that would resolve it, but you questioned it which led to the next " don't ask him".

I don't think this kind of thing is malicious. I think if someone knows their fears or reasons won't be accepted right away and so they find a way to say things to get their needs met.

Your wife fears you would just say no if she asked you to not go, so she finds another way to possibly get this need met.

This doesn't mean you meet all her emotional needs, but it may help to understand that the "reason" given may not be the reason. So rather than fix the "reason" which won't work, ( because it's not- that's why the tattoo and bounce station didn't work) consider the actual reason, and how to work with it or around it.


« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 09:27:36 AM by Notwendy » Logged
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« Reply #54 on: June 08, 2021, 09:33:27 AM »

Neither my ex nor my H are BPD, but I still follow FormFlier's advice in conversations with them (And often with the kids).

Don't take the bait.  "I shouldn't tell you" gets an "I understand that you want to keep a confidence."  and then I turn away.

I also don't like that she's setting up triangulation here - S doesn't want to tell you so *I* will tell you.  We try to avoid that in our house, too.  Even with my ex, I just encourage the kids to tell Dad rather than me tell him.
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« Reply #55 on: June 08, 2021, 09:58:38 AM »

NotWendy- your advice and insight has been so helpful.  You've just described so many interactions I've had with my mom that also echo the current situation with my uBPDw.  You've also elegantly detailed what I couldn't quite put my finger on.  It's greatly appreciated.

I've suspected there's been some projection going on here.  And agreed- I don't think it's malicious!  That's the hard part of it for me- she isn't trying to be mean or manipulative... she's just trying to make the pain go away.  That doesn't make it healthy but it makes it easier to not get upset.

So glad (but also sorry!) that you "the look" too!  I still have nightmares about that look from my childhood!
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« Reply #56 on: June 08, 2021, 11:48:02 AM »

the kids may or may not be saying these things

And...who cares if they did.

Kids are not in charge...adults are.  Hopefully those adults act like adults.

Adults teach kids through words and actions how to be resilient.

So...when/if your pwBPD ever suggests you NOT doing something "because of how a kid feels"..

"hmmm...babe that's interesting to think about.  I'm curious how our actions affect their resiliency...what do you think?"

Just keep turning the conversation back to the parenting goal of resilient children.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #57 on: June 08, 2021, 11:54:50 AM »


Also...there are some interesting possibilities to "erect boundaries".

Step 1..  "ok...so the issue on the table is our sons discomfort with this potential trip."  (gain agreement before moving forward)

Step 2..  "awesome..I'm getting the vibe from you that you are ok with trip..right?  The concern is our son's feelings.."  (said in a breezy way...as in "of course you are ok..we're just talking about our son)

again..stay here until you gain agreement.

Step 3..."ok..now that we know what we are trying to solve, how would me going affect his resiliency?"  "How would me staying affect his resiliency?"

And..the trap snaps shut..

She can either admit she is the one with difficulty...or having a rational (and therefor very uncomfortable discussion) about resiliency.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #58 on: June 08, 2021, 11:57:35 AM »


Step 2..  "awesome..I'm getting the vibe from you that you are ok with trip..right?  The concern is our son's feelings.."  (said in a breezy way...as in "of course you are ok..we're just talking about our son)


That's a fantastic way to do it!

However, she said the midst of the conversation last night that she's not okay with it now... she did agree to it initially but then after I booked it she said the weight of how much she'd have to carry hit her.

Still - some valid and excellent ideas here!  Thanks FF!
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« Reply #59 on: June 08, 2021, 12:01:17 PM »


However, she said the midst of the conversation last night that she's not okay with it now... she did agree to it initially but then after I booked it she said the weight of how much she'd have to carry hit her.

 

Again..in breezy fashion just keep on moving.

"Ok babe...we'll keep that in mind for next trip we plan.  I'm sure it will be thought through better."

Do NOT let her off the hook with her YES.  Otherwise it will "validate the invalid"..which is what I say doesn't matter.  I can change anytime...and jerk everyone around.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #60 on: June 08, 2021, 12:45:42 PM »

FF - brilliant, thank you!
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« Reply #61 on: June 08, 2021, 12:48:54 PM »

then after I booked it she said the weight of how much she'd have to carry hit her.

This is exactly the problem.  I'd keep letting her know that she can do it!  That you know she'll keep the kids safe and happy while you're gone.
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« Reply #62 on: June 08, 2021, 01:15:30 PM »


Hey Guts42,

I'm glad to be able to offer you some "tactical tips"...I think they will help.

Just as importantly I want to make sure you focus most of your brain power on some of the conversations with Notwendy (and others) about the big picture strategic things.

That's where you see patterns.  Once you see them and understand them...YOU then have the power to implement REAL changes...regardless of the "vote" of your pwBPD.

I hope you "see" that...

Thoughts?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #63 on: June 08, 2021, 01:40:35 PM »

Thanks and I think I'm starting to see it.

I'll admit it's difficult not to slip into the mindset of "well this relationship is over anyway, so whatever!"

I've also been resisting the urge to "play the game."  I almost said, "you know I think i've been doing too much for you so I can see why you're so anxious about me going.  Maybe we should come up with a plan to fix that so you feel more independent.  I have a few weeks for the few days I'll be gone, I think that's plenty of time to tackle anything you might be worried about!"
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« Reply #64 on: June 08, 2021, 01:43:52 PM »

  I almost said, "you know I think i've been doing too much for you so I can see why you're so anxious about me going.  Maybe we should come up with a plan to fix that so you feel more independent.  I have a few weeks for the few days I'll be gone, I think that's plenty of time to tackle anything you might be worried about!"

What do you think would have happened if you had said this?

Help us understand how you reasoned through this was not good to say?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #65 on: June 08, 2021, 05:09:10 PM »

I'll admit it's difficult not to slip into the mindset of "well this relationship is over anyway, so whatever!"

Even if the marriage ends, you are still going to be in some kind of relationship with her as a co-parent. It's worth it to gain skills to reduce the drama no matter what you decide and you don't have to decide to begin to learn the skills.

You don't know the outcome. It's possible that you learn to manage things better and it becomes workable (the BPD is still there but you can manage it better) or you decide it's not, but either way, you have better skills to handle co-parenting which is also better for your kids than to have less drama between their parents.

Sounds like win-win all the way around. Albeit, BPD remains, but perhaps the patterns between the two of you can become less dysfunctional.

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« Reply #66 on: June 08, 2021, 09:29:08 PM »

NotWendy- absolutely.  At this point that's my main concern- making things okay for the kids for now and in the future!

FF - my rationale is really just fear.  I can't say anything without it getting turned around on me.  I need to study the jiu jitsu stuff more and try to absorb it.  The more accurate my observations are the more they're met with a mighty counter claim with the trump card being just tears and "how could you?!"

To that end, I think someone asked if I had reached out to the kids' therapists.  I was finally able to chat with them.
They both suggested that the trip would be a great idea and fantastic example for the kids.
So, condition met - the kids' therapists think it'd be great... I did mention some behaviors and inconsistencies I've noticed.  For example when I talk about it with the kids they seem hesitant but okay and a bit excited... however after they talk to my wife behind closed doors she reports a very different story and asks me not to talk to them about it.  Their very astute therapists commented that perhaps their mother is projecting her fears onto them.  A few more great points were made.  I also mentioned that a few books (Eggshells, Hold Me Tight, and Braving the Wilderness) were recently recommended to me and I really enjoyed them all!  I followed up with "I'm noticing a few familiar patterns that remind me of my childhood and I just want to make sure the kids aren't in the headspace I was at their age when it came to my parents" and left it at that.

But now the issue is something else entirely!  Including "this is petty but you put me through hell so I just don't you to go because I want you to know how it feels to not get your way for once!"
There rest was much of the usual script... accusing me of gaslighting, manipulating her and making her question her character.  At one point in an argument I told her she was reminding me of my mother (uBPD) and that it wasn't okay.  That didn't go over well of course and even though I've explained what I meant, she's stuck on that.

I'm back to a comfortable "no-win" situation.  She clearly doesn't want me to go (for reasons we've been over way too many times) but now she doesn't want me to cancel because she doesn't want me to resent her.  That's a careful choice of words on her part.  She wants me to cancel, just not because of her...
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« Reply #67 on: June 08, 2021, 10:10:42 PM »

Right. So...at this point, the ONLY reason you would cancel would be because of her. So...don't.

One principle we remind our members here is that it is not your responsibility to feel their emotions for them.

She is trying to manipulate you into feeling her emotions for her. You can never fully do that, and it is emotionally abusive for her to try to impose it on you.
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« Reply #68 on: June 08, 2021, 11:12:20 PM »

Thank you GaGrl,

That might be the boost in clarity I need at the moment.

She returned to hash it out again even after meeting all these conditions.
"Have you given anymore thought to our talk?"
"I have... I'm going."
"... Okay..." And she gets 'the look’ ... "I just hope it's worth it- worth everything you did!"

I have no idea how to respond to this so I just nod.

"Okay, I'm going to bed," she finally says.

"I'm not quite ready for sleep yet so I'm going to go the office and read."

She's been in the room crying for a while.  Feels like a trap.

I can't keep playing this game!

My trip was never about space to clear my head.  It was about seeing some friends I haven't seen in about a decade.  Now though, it is about space.  I need to clear my head, away from her, to figure out what it is I want to do next and how to do it.  This darn trip has brought all of our issues into the spotlight... Really better now than 30 years down the line.  I know until I enforce a change it's just going to keep getting worse.

I'm sure telling her this will just make it worse.  Any recommendations?
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« Reply #69 on: June 09, 2021, 02:55:54 AM »

"What's going on with my big guy?" I asked.
"... I'm not sure if I should tell you..." and she gave me "the look."  It's this cold dead 'BPD' look that my Mom used to get.
"I'd like you to tell me, if something's bothering him I'd like to know."

"... he said he's having a hard time with your trip- that he doesn't feel up to it and it's making him sad.  He said that 'sissy will be sad and that will make me sad because Dad is gone and sometimes he silly with me and I will miss him and what if he is gone much longer than he says?'  I comforted him and told him it's okay and that barring something going wrong at the airport he'll be home on time..." she just stares at me... "... and...?" A long pause.  "A thank you would be nice!  I comforted him for you so you can still go..."

"I think you should leave it- you'll just make it worse.  They're terrified of making you mad after your outburst- when you yelled at me for doing nothing."

First thing, this seems suspicious.  The closed door, asking if I heard anything?  Right after not getting a response from my daughter... She's made fervent claims that she's not lying or making anything up... however a "did you hear any of that" has preceded both times she's told me the kids have an issue with the trip after talking to them behind closed doors.

Why not talk with your son?  Oh, yeah, you may not get the same version from him.

Notice too that (she said) he said he was upset about the prior outburst.  As though that's another reason not to go.  (Guilting!)  So you apologized again.  My ex did that to me, though she demanded apologies.  Your spouse seems to be getting you to apologize multiple times by gaslighting you.

Before you feel about to apologize yet gain, take the time to ponder the matter and, if appropriate, validate it from a source other than her.

It was everything I could do to keep from losing it."

Looks like she's trying hard to get you perturbed yet again.  With implied blaming.  Don't play her game.  And don't let her rent space in your head - for free.

Don't get a tattoo either, not to please her.  (Personally I'm not into them but dermatologists probably make money removing them when people have second thoughts years later.)
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« Reply #70 on: June 09, 2021, 05:30:02 AM »

It's important now that you stick to your boundary of going on the trip, rather than reinforce her attempts to stop you ( to soothe her own feelings) regardless of her "reasons" which as you see change when one doesn't work.

Her anxiety is increasing and so is yours as she continues to press for what she wants. She's going to say all kinds of things ( consider projection in this- " you always get your way" I bet she gets hers a lot. )


There's no reason for you to get into a long circular discussion over her reasons "why you should not go" with her because the "reason" is her underlying emotions, not the reason you are trying to discuss. I would not suggest you ignore her if she brings it up, but have some short response that validates her feelings and reply that you will go. " I hear you are concerned about___________" I know this is concerning for you" " of course I will miss you and the kids and will be back in a few days".

 
People use the relationship tools that work for them.  If these attempts to get her emotional needs have worked for her ( for 30+ years) she will use what she knows has worked.

You also came in the relationship with a set of "tools" that work well with a BPD parent. You are probably used to appeasing and if you don't go along with it, I bet you become more anxious. This makes sense - I know in my family if we didn't appease BPD mom there were some scary consequences. We learned to read subtle signs like body language, tone of voice, facial expressions. ( I think the LOOK is when the person is dissociating and you can see them disconnect in their eyes- it's a scary hollow look). I can find myself appeasing someone even before they ask. If someone is angry or upset with me, I get anxious.

When we appease someone it appears we are taking care of their emotions, giving in to them, but what we are also doing is taking care of our own emotions, relieving our anxiety by appeasing them. This reinforces the patterns for both people- both get their anxiety relieved. This is why it's so hard to change.

These behaviors worked for us as kids. They were necessary for us to get by in our families. However, as adults they don't serve us well. On your side, you can work on your part, not hers. How to take care of your own anxiety during this. But it's good because you are doing something different, learning how to manage your part and so may change the dynamics. But it's going to be uncomfortable for both of you at first, as now, the anxiety isn't being managed the usual way.

My mother and my father's relatives were cordial to each other, but actually disliked each other. After my father died, I figured they would not have much to do with each other. My mother wasn't subtle about her feelings about them. But my family is still close to them and so we decided to visit them. We dreaded telling my mother, we knew she'd be upset that we weren't visiting her. But we didn't intend to hurt her, we just wanted to see them too. It wouldn't occur to us to invite her, knowing their relationship. But she felt left out even if we didn't intend it.

When we told her, she went bizzerk - threatening, refusing to speak to us. This lasted a couple of weeks. Then a friendly phone call as if nothing happened.

These kinds of outbursts are like emotion vomit. Once it's out, they feel better, and it's as if nothing happened. They feel better and so assume you do too. All is back to normal, ( except for you it's not because the outburst is unravelling). Learning to not react too much to these emotions and to not take what is said personally can help.








« Last Edit: June 09, 2021, 05:46:44 AM by Notwendy » Logged
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« Reply #71 on: June 09, 2021, 11:43:43 AM »

Let me say a bit more about the "feeling emotions for the pwBPD."

 A pwBPD doesn't know what to do with uncomfortable emotions. They lack the ability to self-soothe. So they seek for others to soothe those emotions for them -- and that can look like projection, manipulation, guilting, raging, silent treatment, etc.

When techniques (that have worked in the past) to off-load uncomfortable emotions no longer work, because the partner/person targeted has strong boundaries, the pwBPD experiences an "extinction burst." All efforts to alleviate uncomfortable emotions and off-load the emotions onto someone else are redoubled, tripled. ..the rages provide some temporary physical release of negative energy but don't resolve the underlying issue. An extinction burst can last days, perhaps weeks, as the pwBPD continues to circle around in a new attempt to return the relationship to the previous status of being soothed and accommodated.

You are in the midst of an extinction burst.

If you don't hold true to your values (and subsequent boundaries), there will be a next time, and then a next time...and so on.

There are ways to be the emotional leader in your household without feeling your wife's emotions for her. Or feeling your children's emotions for them, for that matter. You, as the emotional leader, want to model how to respond appropriately and in a healthy way to life and its stresses. You want to help your children learn to self-soothe and be resilient. You can hope to help your wife.

Regardless of what you decide about your future, you can have a goal in place to work toward with your family's emotional health.
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« Reply #72 on: June 09, 2021, 05:20:28 PM »

Thank you GaGrl!

I looked up "extinction burst" and wow is that right on point!

The "BPD" came out strong last night with some very heavy accusations- all that follow the extinction burst pattern pretty well.

It was a lot of "you've changed!  You used to be the one to hold me together and now you don't and I'm scared!  I don't know what I did to make you not love me anymore!!" and specifically about the trip "all I know is I feel broken and you're leaving!!"

So today after some time to think, I have conceded a single condition for me not to go: if the kids don't feel safe without me home (ie they don't feel safe with her alone).  If that's the case then we have bigger issues.  I have no interest in being with someone I don't feel 100% trust with the kids alone.

I broke the mandate and had a long talk with the kids about the trip.  It went about as I expected- they're a little sad and they'll miss me but as long as I keep in touch and do a few things (presents, send texts/pictures, etc) they'll be fine.  To my wife's credit she did tell them that IF I did go they'd have a fun weekend.  This had heavy martyr overtones but hey they're onboard.
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« Reply #73 on: June 09, 2021, 05:29:58 PM »

Hey Guts42,

Excerpt
I have conceded a single condition for me not to go: if the kids don't feel safe without me home (ie they don't feel safe with her alone)

Is this a condition "just for you, in your own head", or is it something you're thinking of verbalizing?
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« Reply #74 on: June 09, 2021, 05:45:39 PM »


Hmm...that's a squishy one.  "if the kids don't feel.."

Look...how many people and therapists are advocating for you to go?

Do you think the kids therapists are in touch with the kids "real" feelings?  And there therapists have said yous should (fill in the blank on going or not).

So... Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post)

Whatever you can do to limit talks about the trip..much better.

Please believe me...if you don't go on the the trip...YOUR LIFE WITH BPD WILL GET WORSE!!!!

If you go and then consistently hold other healthy positions in the face of emotional manipulation...well...there is a good chance for improvement.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #75 on: June 09, 2021, 06:41:34 PM »

I agree with FF. Not going on the trip at this point would be three giant steps back. You've spoken to the children, you've spoken to your wife, the aunt is on alert, you've spoken to therapists.

Now stop talking about it.

Please re-read what I wrote about being the emotional leader in your family. You've been, and are in danger of now allowing, your wife to be the emotional force in the family -- and that dynamic desperately needs to change.

This trip is a gift. Accept it.
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« Reply #76 on: June 09, 2021, 08:45:56 PM »

Agreed with everyone!

The single condition is something I've kept to myself and a few people outside (mostly my friends I'll be seeing - just so they're aware).

Again - kids are onboard, THREE therapists have said it's a good idea, nearby family is aware.  The trip is exactly two weeks out, time to stop talking about it.  I have encouraged the kids to of course come to me with concerns about me being gone so we can talk about them... but they're kids so I think it's okay.  Tonight my son asked if he could send a video to one of my friends telling him that if we 'have a chance to see a sea otter we should take it because they are very cute."  ... seems like a kid who's really broken up about me going on the trip right  ;)  They also asked if they could help pick my seats so I can be sure to have a window seat (they want lots of pictures and I am happy to oblige).

BTW - does anyone know if they still have those in flight phones?  I think they used to attached to seat backs? It's been about two years since I was on a flight and I don't remember.

I put up a good boundary today and feel pretty good about it.  I've got a LONG road ahead no matter what I chose but this trip has become a sort of turning point.

I also had a thought that kind of helped me put things in perspective.
My uBPD wife says the she feels like her emotional processing ability is always at 110% but I think it's because she has the capacity of a 12 year old.  It's like a Ford escort trying keep up with a U-haul while carrying the contents of a studio apartment.  The tiny Ford sees it's own load spilling over, it's wheels about to pop, suspension nearly crushed... but sees the U-haul  doing just fine.  So of course the Ford thinks "That's not fair!  They seem okay so their load must not be as heavy as mine!!"  The tiny car doesn't see that inside the U-Haul has just as much stuff but it all fits nicely and has plenty of power to chug along.
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« Reply #77 on: June 09, 2021, 08:49:22 PM »

You're doing really good work. It's hard!

I'll bet you've learned more in the past two weeks than you could have imagined. Don't let it exhaust your energy. Take care of yourself.
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« Reply #78 on: June 10, 2021, 07:35:10 AM »

GaGrl, yup!  I've learned so much in past few weeks about this relationship and myself than I have in the entire duration of the relationship itself!

Establishing a firm boundary for myself about the trip has given me a tremendous sense of peace.  All of the input and reassurance here has also been incredibly helpful.  So glad I picked up Eggshells and found this space.

A few thoughts and observations.
BPD explains so much- whether she only has traits or meets the criteria for an official diagnosis.
The tendency to "pop-off" in high stress situations, the juvenile behavior long after we've resolved a conflict, the fact that every conflict we've had has been explicitly "my fault," and the persistent victim mentality.  I can think of so many instances that should have been giant red flags.
I've also accepted my role in this and how I've enabled and encouraged the behavior by validating the responses.

A hard pill to swallow is that I may have developed some sexist preconceived notions!  My wife seems to be in an okay place at the moment... There are a few things that indicate she's nearing acceptance of something she doesn't like.
"I'm going to be calling you a$$hole a lot and flipping you off for the next few days- just so you know!  And I get to because you hurt me."
I've always accepted this as "normal."
This is just how women get sometimes... Yikes!!  I see how incredibly problematic this is in so many ways.  In one of her recent splitting episodes she accused me of being a "typical entitled white male" because she says I don't value what she does around the house and that i expect "hero worship for mundane sh#t."  I recognize now that this was projection.  However, there was a smidgen of truth in there: by accepting her behavior as normal "female" behavior I was developing a lack of respect for women in general... sorry about that!
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« Reply #79 on: June 10, 2021, 09:35:14 AM »

I am also beginning to understand the flaw in her logic.  I know, logic can't be expected here but it helps me understand how she's thinking to better respond.

One of her main "reasons" for me not going is that she "does everything" around the house and I don't carry my own weight.  If that were true why would it matter if I left for a few days?  If I do very little shouldn't my absence be of little consequence?

I understand full well that she's either projecting or just trying any form of guilt to get me not to go but seeing how flaws this logic is helps me to cope and not react in anger.

Going "radio silence" on it unless the kids bring it up with me but other than that I'm not going to engage in anymore discussions.  It's settled.  I am going and I'm not going to feel guilty about it.
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« Reply #80 on: June 10, 2021, 09:40:04 AM »

I've also accepted my role in this and how I've enabled and encouraged the behavior by validating the responses.


Massive amounts of understanding and eye opening are happening for you.  I think it would be great to stop thinking about the trip and associated details.....instead review lessons about validation.  

I'm pretty sure you will "see" things now that you haven't before.

Validation lesson 1


Avoiding invalidation

I'd be interested in hearing about any new insights or questions after you read these some more.

Best,

FF

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« Reply #81 on: June 10, 2021, 09:43:57 AM »

I am also beginning to understand the flaw in her logic.  I know, logic can't be expected here but it helps me understand how she's thinking to better respond.
 
tI would encourage to you identify those "flaws" and then set aside logic.  There is most likely a "hurt" or "emotion" there that needs to be handled quite carefully.

I would discourage you from trying to convince her of "flaws" in her logic.  It might be temporarily satisfying to you, yet I think there is more long term danger by "going there".

Best,

FF
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« Reply #82 on: June 10, 2021, 09:48:58 AM »


I would discourage you from trying to convince her of "flaws" in her logic.  It might be temporarily satisfying to you, yet I think there is more long term danger by "going there".


Absolutely!  Those little notes are just for me.  Bringing up logical arguments to an irrational person just isn't productive.
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« Reply #83 on: June 10, 2021, 09:54:34 AM »

I am also beginning to understand the flaw in her logic.  I know, logic can't be expected here but it helps me understand how she's thinking to better respond.

One of her main "reasons" for me not going is that she "does everything" around the house and I don't carry my own weight.  If that were true why would it matter if I left for a few days?  If I do very little shouldn't my absence be of little consequence?

This is where it's important to keep FormFlier's advice in mind - look for the emotions.

That statement of hers signals one of two emotions to me-
a) overwhelmed - she already feels as if she has a really heavy load, and she doesn't know what to do now that she's going to have to do your part too. 
b) jealousy - you get a fun thing and she doesn't.

You wouldn't validate the illogical - that she literally does everything, etc - but you can validate the emotions that she's feeling.  Or not.

I think your plan to set a boundary and have no more conversations about this topic is good.
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« Reply #84 on: June 10, 2021, 01:19:23 PM »

Well that didn't last long.

She had the kids to herself and came back with a different story than what the kids are telling me... but not so horribly different that I think it's really a big deal.  The more concerning part to me is the language/phrasing she's using (on top of the possibility that she's projecting her fears onto the kids)

She told me (of course) to not talk with them about it because they won't tell me.
"You've traumatized them enough and they don't want to disappoint you."

I have also now been accused of bribing them by offering airport souvenirs, picture messages, etc.
She encouraged them to "be honest with her about how they feel without your bribes" and OF COURSE they cried about no presents.  According to her both kids have said "I want Dad to go for him, because he has not seen his friends in a long time, but I don't want him to go because I will be sad and he won't be here to tuck me in."  I think that's a fairly healthy (and actually kind of mature) thing for a 6 and 8 year old to say!

I responded with "yeah, that actually seems fair and pretty normal- I'm so glad you can tell me!  I do wish they could tell me that but I'm glad they feel comfortable enough to tell you and you can tell me.  I really appreciate it."

And then the escalation...
"Well, yeah they're not going to tell you- you're their hero.  So I told them not to 'worry about Dad- I'll deal with him."
That emphasis was palpable, so I called her on it.

"I hear what you're saying, and again I'm glad they can tell you.  However, I'm a little concerned that phrasing it that way may just reinforce the idea that they can't tell me.  I think 'deal with' might give them the wrong idea."

"Well that's not what I meant!  But FINE!  I can phrase it differently from now on, okay?!" and then mockingly "sorry!"

"I don't think it's anything you even have to apologize for really, I know you didn't mean it that way.  What also concerns me is that I'm getting some of this hesitation from them but overall an expected and healthy amount, however what you're saying is very different than that and it's really quite different from what their therapists are telling me."

"I dunno, I think they need a new therapist- I've been thinking that for a while and I know you have too."

[I don't]

"Not particularly, I know you're concerned with the amount of 'play' they do and that they might not be sharing much because they just want to play.  However I spoke with them they said you'd be surprised how much comes out in play.  It can seem frustrating at times but they're probably too young to really articulate how they feel explicitly like we can as mature adults."

"Well okay, but I just want to you know that as your trip gets closer you should expect their anxiety to increase!"

"Of course!  I think that's totally natural.  I think we can help them find a way to understand and accept that.  I think it's a really important skill for them to learn and we have the opportunity to work with their therapists together.  I think that's pretty cool.
 We have a few sessions with their therapists scheduled before I go.  I'd also really like you to be part of the next conversation we have with them.  Do you want me to text and see when they're available?"

"No- that's fine.  I usually run into them while I'm there [alone] and we can talk."

Preaching to the choir here (and really just venting so that y'all for indulging me!) but wow are there ever some red flags here!

I texted the kiddo's therapists asked for a follow up when time permits and that my wife would really like to be on the call too.

I think talking about it too much is just going to make everyone anxious (even me!).
I want to get to a point where it's accepted that I'm going and we (me and the kids) can get to a comfortable place about it.

At the end I thanked my wife for telling me, that I'm glad she can tell me these things and the kids seems right about on par for what to expect per their therapists.

She kept slipping into "the look" when I didn't react.  I think she's either trying to get me to react in anger or flat out cancel the trip on account of the kids.  Not going to work Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #85 on: June 10, 2021, 01:32:42 PM »

Right. So...at this point, the ONLY reason you would cancel would be because of her. So...don't.

One principle we remind our members here is that it is not your responsibility to feel their emotions for them.

She is trying to manipulate you into feeling her emotions for her. You can never fully do that, and it is emotionally abusive for her to try to impose it on you.

This whole thread has been illuminating for me, but especially this post.

My pwBPD has been doing this all along. She said she wanted "comfort and understanding" but in reality, I could never keep her emotions from flooding my space and upending my days ... or weeks. She didn't want comfort. She wanted me to feel and to process her emotions for her. Coupled with MY feelings about HER feelings, it's too much of a load for me. My emotional resources get exhausted quickly.

In a way, it takes me back to my childhood, when I used to pick up on my mother's emotions easily and fret about them. I don't think she was BPD, just volatile at times - perhaps depressed and anxious without a vocabulary to describe it, as she comes from a generation where people just "pulled up their bootstraps" and got on with life. I was a sensitive, serious, empathic child. I remember trying to behave as perfectly as I could (walking on eggshells) hoping that would make my mother feel better.

I have fallen into that old pattern with my pwBPD, but I don't have to stay there. Over time, I learned I could support someone without taking on their emotions. With my pwBPD, I may have to separate myself physically to avoid getting flooded, because when I'm in the same apartment as her, she persists in trying to put her emotions on me. But I'll do what I need to protect myself now that I know her inability to handle her emotions isn't MY failing.
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LovelyRita50
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« Reply #86 on: June 10, 2021, 01:39:02 PM »

"I dunno, I think they need a new therapist- I've been thinking that for a while and I know you have too."

[I don't]

"Not particularly, I know you're concerned with the amount of 'play' they do and that they might not be sharing much because they just want to play.  However I spoke with them they said you'd be surprised how much comes out in play.  It can seem frustrating at times but they're probably too young to really articulate how they feel explicitly like we can as mature adults."

Heh. Don't buy what she's selling here. For kids, play is HOW they get their emotions out. Their play time is often filled with rich symbolism that the therapist can access and help them with, simply by talking while they play.

I'm in a marriage and family therapy master's program, and one of my professors does therapy with a 14-year-old by playing Super Smash Brothers with him. He says it keeps the boy engaged and revealing his feelings much better than if they were sitting in a sterile office staring at each other.
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« Reply #87 on: June 10, 2021, 03:16:27 PM »

Play therapy is akin to how much is revealed in conversations with your child while in a car. I had some of our best talks with my son while driving. They don't feel pressured by the contact, and they know all the attention is not focused on them. It's freeing.
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« Reply #88 on: June 10, 2021, 03:51:40 PM »

Agreed - I even pick up on things the kids say while playing at home (their play room is upstairs next to my office)

Staying the course and not deviating (but not making a big deal about) me going.
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« Reply #89 on: June 10, 2021, 03:52:44 PM »

Heh. Don't buy what she's selling here. For kids, play is HOW they get their emotions out. Their play time is often filled with rich symbolism that the therapist can access and help them with, simply by talking while they play.

I'm in a marriage and family therapy master's program, and one of my professors does therapy with a 14-year-old by playing Super Smash Brothers with him. He says it keeps the boy engaged and revealing his feelings much better than if they were sitting in a sterile office staring at each other.

Hi there LovelyRita!  Welcome!  Looks like you're new here as well!  I've only been 'hip' to BPD for about two months now... talk about drinking from a fire hose!
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« Reply #90 on: June 10, 2021, 04:16:01 PM »

Hi,
please don't read what I am writing as being judgmental. It is just my perception and observation. As it is quite different from what most of the others have written, I thought that it might be of some use to someone.
I am not sure how is it possible that you see your relationship as a one between two adult persons that can communicate in a "normal" way, and lead a "normal" life. She is obviously not mentally stable and has all traits of highly functioning BPD (similar to my wife and probably other spouses with BPD traits here being discussed).
So, for me, it is like this. I have diabetes T1 since I was 35 (13 years ago). Because of that my life is not "normal". Off course, I try to make it as "normal" as possible, but, no, it is not "normal" to give yourself insulin shots 4-5 times a day. It's ugly. It's incredible that medicine has such a wonderful solution for my condition, but my life is... different.
The same with my / your wife. But her problem is not with sugar metabolism. It is with communication and relationships. She is really really bad at that, and probably is still at the adolescent level of maturity in this respect. Her emotional intelligence, when she is "up", is zero or even negative. She is her biggest problem. She experiences internally her emotions probably some hundred times stronger than you, and they totally overwhelm her.
So, you have two choices. You can say to yourself "I deserve to be living a "normal" life", and push the boat in that direction, where you will leave your two kids in a really problematic situation. To get full custody, which seems like the only solution in which they would be totally safe from her episodes after your divorce her (she will find another man for sure... and your kids will be there), you will need to go down the BPD road and ask for expert witnessing. And it will be really really ugly. If you think that you can really lead a "normal" life after that, lucky you. I personally can not find anything "normal" in doing anything like that. There is this person with mental health problems, that has two wonderful kids with you, and you are just letting her help herself, which she very obviously can not.
Or you can accept that she is your life and what you are here for. Not to lead a "normal" life but to take care of her, no matter how hard that is, and how "not normal" that is. Because you can. Because you ARE "normal" and she is not. And you are currently the only connection to normality she has.
That is my decision. I've learned how to live without "pushing her buttons", as much as I possibly can. That is not "normal" for sure. She say ugly things to me and I don't react. I don't see us in any conflict, because she is in a way a patient, which off course she must never know. That is my secret. I teach my son about mom in a nice way, not using medical terms or words sick, ill, mental, BPD or anything. I just teach him that his mom is an incredible woman but has this hot temper and very little things can trigger her angry side, but that this side passes away very quickly if no one "catches the hook" and just says anything that needs to be said to make her calmer. And that everything she says is not who or what she is. That words are not the most important thing about people. That she cares about him so dearly (which she really does...) and loves him like no one else (which she does). It helps him a lot, kids get it really quickly. But it must come from deep empathy towards her, otherwise it will not work because you will choose wrong words to communicate it.
So, perhaps it is not a popular decision, also perhaps it is not modern and is a more traditional family-centric approach... but that is how I was raised. For me, after having my son, I am no longer entitled to anything at all if it messes up with my family. There is my family and then............... far far away...................there is me.
I know that I can do this and be this because I lead a really full life until I met my wife, really kicked it to the fullest, even was briefly married once before  (with no kids...) and that for those that got married at 25-30 and never lead a rich after college single life, it might me impossible... and I don't blame them.
I am just sharing my perspective and how I see things.
I truly wish best of life to you and your family....
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« Reply #91 on: June 10, 2021, 05:01:31 PM »

Hey olafinsky-
I am not here to question your decision.  It is quite admirable and something I tried over the last two years, once things really got to a new level at home and there was a diagnosis.  However, when does it become too much?
My kids are learning that its okay to act like their mother because getting angry and saying mean things without taking ownership of them is okay.  I do not believe that is a way to really let a child grow learning healthy relationship skills?  I have my own experiences obviously, and staying with the family together for my children I have tried even during my wifes multiple infidelities (continued disrespect for our relationship).  I assure you I have done therapy and learning all I can possibly learn and try to work with her.  At this point is it better to choose the lesser of two evils?  I cant leave the kids with her under these conditions but I also can't stay with her abuse effecting my ability to be the best dad I can be...

Hi,
please don't read what I am writing as being judgmental. It is just my perception and observation. As it is quite different from what most of the others have written, I thought that it might be of some use to someone.
I am not sure how is it possible that you see your relationship as a one between two adult persons that can communicate in a "normal" way, and lead a "normal" life. She is obviously not mentally stable and has all traits of highly functioning BPD (similar to my wife and probably other spouses with BPD traits here being discussed).
So, for me, it is like this. I have diabetes T1 since I was 35 (13 years ago). Because of that my life is not "normal". Off course, I try to make it as "normal" as possible, but, no, it is not "normal" to give yourself insulin shots 4-5 times a day. It's ugly. It's incredible that medicine has such a wonderful solution for my condition, but my life is... different.
The same with my / your wife. But her problem is not with sugar metabolism. It is with communication and relationships. She is really really bad at that, and probably is still at the adolescent level of maturity in this respect. Her emotional intelligence, when she is "up", is zero or even negative. She is her biggest problem. She experiences internally her emotions probably some hundred times stronger than you, and they totally overwhelm her.
So, you have two choices. You can say to yourself "I deserve to be living a "normal" life", and push the boat in that direction, where you will leave your two kids in a really problematic situation. To get full custody, which seems like the only solution in which they would be totally safe from her episodes after your divorce her (she will find another man for sure... and your kids will be there), you will need to go down the BPD road and ask for expert witnessing. And it will be really really ugly. If you think that you can really lead a "normal" life after that, lucky you. I personally can not find anything "normal" in doing anything like that. There is this person with mental health problems, that has two wonderful kids with you, and you are just letting her help herself, which she very obviously can not.
Or you can accept that she is your life and what you are here for. Not to lead a "normal" life but to take care of her, no matter how hard that is, and how "not normal" that is. Because you can. Because you ARE "normal" and she is not. And you are currently the only connection to normality she has.
That is my decision. I've learned how to live without "pushing her buttons", as much as I possibly can. That is not "normal" for sure. She say ugly things to me and I don't react. I don't see us in any conflict, because she is in a way a patient, which off course she must never know. That is my secret. I teach my son about mom in a nice way, not using medical terms or words sick, ill, mental, BPD or anything. I just teach him that his mom is an incredible woman but has this hot temper and very little things can trigger her angry side, but that this side passes away very quickly if no one "catches the hook" and just says anything that needs to be said to make her calmer. And that everything she says is not who or what she is. That words are not the most important thing about people. That she cares about him so dearly (which she really does...) and loves him like no one else (which she does). It helps him a lot, kids get it really quickly. But it must come from deep empathy towards her, otherwise it will not work because you will choose wrong words to communicate it.
So, perhaps it is not a popular decision, also perhaps it is not modern and is a more traditional family-centric approach... but that is how I was raised. For me, after having my son, I am no longer entitled to anything at all if it messes up with my family. There is my family and then............... far far away...................there is me.
I know that I can do this and be this because I lead a really full life until I met my wife, really kicked it to the fullest, even was briefly married once before  (with no kids...) and that for those that got married at 25-30 and never lead a rich after college single life, it might me impossible... and I don't blame them.
I am just sharing my perspective and how I see things.
I truly wish best of life to you and your family....
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« Reply #92 on: June 11, 2021, 06:21:10 AM »

Or you can accept that she is your life and what you are here for. Not to lead a "normal" life but to take care of her, no matter how hard that is, and how "not normal" that is.

This was my father's choice. It wasn't normal. Although he accomplished many things, his focus was on my mother, and her comfort. Was it the right choice? That's not for me to judge.


I teach my son about mom in a nice way, not using medical terms or words sick, ill, mental, BPD or anything. I just teach him that his mom is an incredible woman but has this hot temper and very little things can trigger her angry side, but that this side passes away very quickly if no one "catches the hook" and just says anything that needs to be said to make her calmer.

While I understand that you have made this choice, you are setting the stage for your son to probably also marry someone with BPD. These patterns are intergenerational. You are your son's #1 role model. He's going to learn about marriage from you. He will learn some remarkable traits: patients, compassion, loyalty, and honoring a commitment. You know that your choice isn't a "normal" situation, but to your son, what he grows up with is his normal, and he will see that abdicating his own life choices and goals for the sake of the emotional comfort of a mentally ill person, basically giving up who he is, to comfort someone else, is normal and he will likely find someone with whom to do this with. Is this what you want for your son?

Not reacting, not catching the bait, is a good relationship skill, as some things are said in the moment, but teaching a child to stepping in to calm their parent down is in a way telling them they are responsible for emotionally caretaking a parent. Sometimes this is done in a family for survival for all. However, we children were enlisted as my mother's emotional caretaker at an early age, and to feel responsible for her feelings. While this certainly made things calmer at times, it's not a child's role to emotionally caretake a parent.

However, when does it become too much?


I think this is an individual decision. While pwBPD share certain behavioral traits, it's a spectrum and each has their own personality. Their partners also have their own tolerance levels as well as their own personality traits.

Two choices have been proposed. One is divorce and yet, this doesn't end the relationship if the couple shares children and a dysfunctional marriage becomes dysfunctional co-parenting. The other is dedicating one's life to emotionally caretaking the person with BPD because they have the disorder and you don't.

The middle road is to work on our part in the dysfunctional dynamics with the goal of possibly decreasing them. This isn't expecting the person to be normal. It's raising our own relationship skills because likely if someone is in a long term relationship with someone with BPD, they play a part in it too. Whatever direction the relationship takes- stay or leave, the skills are helpful regardless. In addition, role modeling these skills for a child will help them in their future relationships. By finding some way to be authentically yourself as much as possible, you are showing your child they can do that as well.
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« Reply #93 on: June 11, 2021, 07:20:31 AM »

Or you can accept that she is your life and what you are here for. Not to lead a "normal" life but to take care of her, no matter how hard that is, and how "not normal" that is.
This was my father's choice. It wasn't normal. Although he accomplished many things, his focus was on my mother, and her comfort. Was it the right choice? That's not for me to judge.

While I understand that you have made this choice, you are setting the stage for your son to probably also marry someone with BPD. These patterns are intergenerational.
Is this what you want for your son?

The middle road is to work on our part in the dysfunctional dynamics with the goal of possibly decreasing them. This isn't expecting the person to be normal. It's raising our own relationship skills because likely if someone is in a long term relationship with someone with BPD, they play a part in it too.

I've got chills, NotWendy!
It's remarkable how many of us could swap names and essentially have written each other's posts.

Olafinsky, I much appreciate your input!  Your choice is precisely what my Dad did- and here I am.  I do not want this path for my kids.  I already see my daughter showing signs of taking on the role I had at her age: the emotional reservoir for BOTH parents.  Try as my Dad did I ended up becoming the external processing unit for their emotions- rage in particular.  That rage shaped my entire adolescence.  It wasn't until recently (seriously within the last few weeks) that I really understand why I was so angry- beyond the trendy teenage angst.  My rage growing up was absolute.  I never hurt anyone but the rage inside was so intense that I felt like a freak.  I never felt good enough for anyone for any sort of relationship (friendship or otherwise) so I kept everyone away to essentially protect them from my horrible personality flaw(s).
I understand (or am starting to understand) that the feelings of inadequacy were fueled on two fronts: my mother's episodes AND my father's attempt to 'deal' with her.  My mother made feel like I'd never be good enough for anyone (probably because she said this multiple times along with 'it'd be easier if you just died!') and then my father made me feel my anger and frustration at my mother was invalid, wrong, and selfish.  My dad frequently quoted Star Trek: "the good of the many..."  My Dad was equating Spock's sacrifice to him continuing the weather the storm of my mother's mental illness.  He thought he was being selfless but in reality he was being incredibly selfish and defining the next generation's unhealthy 'normal' at the same time. (next generation... next to a Spock reference?  see what I did there?)
Looking back I actively sought out people who seemed 'normal' to me.  Before my wife I dated a woman who had many BPD traits!  She and my wife both felt comfortable and familiar to me... I thought it was because our personalities just clicked.  That's true- they did.  We quickly and comfortably adopted the typical BPD relationship roles.

So here I am.  I'm not sure where this is going but I do know something has to change.  I am recognizing and unpacking just how much of a role I have played in this cycle.  It isn't easy - but whether it's for this relationship, the next, or I become single forever it is work I need to do for me.

Let us invoke the wisdom of Ru Paul!  "If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?"
Or the ever controversial Ayn Rand...
"To say ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I.’ The meaning of the ‘I’ is an independent, self-sufficient entity that does not exist for the sake of any other person. A person who exists only for the sake of his loved one is not an independent entity, but a spiritual parasite. The love of a parasite is worth nothing."
(I know... HARSH and a lot of her books were... a bit out of touch but some of her points are valid, especially this quote)


I have begun putting up boundaries... this trip is a good (and HUGE) example.  She is still fighting me on it, but I am not budging.  However I am not 'fighting' back and doing my best to redirect her energy.
For example, just last night:
"I might have to reschedule my tattoo because of your STUPID trip" (this is a tattoo we planned a while ago, she's not getting the one she demanded)
"I don't think that will be the case- what's your concern?"
"You won't be here to take care of it!  It's in a spot I can't reach!"
"I think you'll be healed up well enough, I think it'll be okay.  By then I don't think it'll need any extra care."
"If I have to reschedule it because of you I'll be mad!  Super MAD!  REALLY REALLY ANGRY!"
"I hear ya - how about I call the shop tomorrow and go over after care?  We've had tattoos before and from I remember after 48 hours is pretty much just wash it gently in the shower, right?"
"Maybe... I dunno... I guess I'll just have to suck it up and deal!  But no - I can't - no one will be here to take care of me!"
"I'll call tomorrow and get some detailed instructions so we both feel better"

Looking back on this conversation I see I may not have validated her feelings enough by saying "it'll be okay."  That's something I'm working on!  I did manage to remain calm and saw straight through this recent attempt.  That seems to be key lately- staying calm without becoming a 'robot.'  She seems to drop it whenever I offer to contact someone else.
The one thing I did not do was even hint that I'd not go!
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« Reply #94 on: June 11, 2021, 10:29:30 AM »

Perhaps going to be a bit long winded and meandering.

So I hope to back out of details and add some "big picture" perspective....please don't take this as criticism of anyone..just a different perspective.

Generally speaking...people that have PDs or have "been involved" in PDs (like been in a a long term relationship with one) can have "all or nothing" thinking...also known as "for me or against me"...also known as "black and white thinking"...also known in academic circles as "dichotomous thinking"  (I could probably keep listing different ways to communicate the same concept).

So...please be careful with normal and not normal labels.  Please also be careful to not jump the other way and suggest that those labels are "never" ok.

Some PDs are so far away from the "boundaries" of diagnosable/not diagnosable that they clearly are "not normal".

Plus you look around at everyone else's home life and realize that you really are the "outlier".  Notwendy seems to have done this and realized that her friend group growing up all had dramatically different home lives.  (so perhaps 20 families she was familiar with to "see" this..Notwendy am I close on this?)

For me...I realize my marriage is VERY VERY far from normal (in some aspects).  I mean how many marriages have a situation where a wife has found a baby the wife believes the husband fathered...and then at the point of "finding the truth" (via paternity test) dropped the claim and only believed the husband made this lady holler by sneaking back into town when he was supposed to be on military deployment...

I only know of one such marriage...and that's mine.

So...sadly, I'm convinced "not normal" is an appropriate label for me, yet I've found some ways around this.

Now..to this thread.  How many marriages are you guys aware of where the stress from travelling and separation is a big deal.  For me the number is so big I'm not sure I can even guess.

Well...now that the OP is learning healthy strategies I think there is a good chance that over time travel and separation will be "normal" or at least in this boundary area where it is debatable.

Then as things improve and change you will likely figure out a pwBPDs "core injury".  For FFw if I ever need to suggest that she did something wrong I have to put bubble wrap on that message..I do gymnastics to delivery it with kindness and usually figure out it's more trouble that it's worth.

My wife was taught "she was wrong" growing up.  She was a twin and her brother came out first.  If not for my wife they would have had "the perfect" family of one older sister and one younger brother...my wife was this extra they were not prepared for.

I guess in 1972 sometimes they didn't know twins were coming.

Anyway...please be careful with labels and realize that the OP is at the start of a journey of getting healthier.  The only way to know how much a r/s can improve is to try (with proper support).

Final thought:  We all know this trip thing will go sideways at somepoint as the pwBPD "tries a dysfunctional tool".  So..nobody should look at this particular trip results as the "it worked or didn't work" thing.

If he goes on the trip and holds the boundary...we declare victory and move on.  After a year we will be able to look back and better understand how this trip plays into this thing.

Appreciate all you guys so much!!!

FF

  
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« Reply #95 on: June 11, 2021, 10:31:20 AM »

I I see I may not have validated her feelings enough by saying "it'll be okay."  


Pop quiz:

Would this message validate or invalidate her?

Good for you in reviewing and looking..!!!!

Best,

FF
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« Reply #96 on: June 11, 2021, 02:06:09 PM »


Would this message validate or invalidate her?


It's tough... I think in her mind it's me dismissing her concerns.  At the same time I don't want to validate her invalid observations.  My intent was to suggest that "I hear your concerns but I think it'll be okay" (based on what I know about the process) without being patronizing.
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« Reply #97 on: June 11, 2021, 02:27:37 PM »

She told me (of course) to not talk with them about it because they won't tell me.
"You've traumatized them enough and they don't want to disappoint you."

Translation:
(1) You must only hear my version of what the kids think.
(2) I'm traumatized.

I suspect that when you return this will have been, what's the word?  A nothingburger.  All this angst and when it's past she will act as though it never was impending doom.

Still, make sure the kids know they can chat with aunt anytime for anything, and maybe aunt can be a little proactive about that.  Phrase it carefully so spouse doesn't start a new complaint, that you're sidestepping her super-involved role as parent.
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« Reply #98 on: June 11, 2021, 02:51:45 PM »

It's tough... I think in her mind it's me dismissing her concerns.  At the same time I don't want to validate her invalid observations.  My intent was to suggest that "I hear your concerns but I think it'll be okay" (based on what I know about the process) without being patronizing.

you are essentially having a "good/bad" argument with her..don't go there.  Yes it's horrible/no it's not.


her:  blah blah blah..will have to cancel my tatoo and getting those toes put on backwards...blah blah blah

you:   Uggg..sounds hard.  Do you think your plan will work?

Validating questions

Read my option and your option several times.  How do they seem different?

Best,

FF



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« Reply #99 on: June 11, 2021, 03:14:06 PM »

First of all, GREAT JOB in not even hinting that you'll give up your trip!!!!

But, as you noticed, the conversation could have gone better. 
Excerpt
W: "I might have to reschedule my tattoo because of your STUPID trip"
You: "I don't think that will be the case-what's your concern?"
You started off invalidating here.  Instead, start by acknowledging the emotion.  "Oh, wow, that would suck if you had to reschedule it."

Then, you did great asking a probing question.

Excerpt
"You won't be here to take care of it!  It's in a spot I can't reach!"
"I think you'll be healed up well enough, I think it'll be okay.  By then I don't think it'll need any extra care."
Again, you immediately invalidated her (with facts).
Instead, address the emotion - "That would be bad if you needed someone to help and couldn't find anyone."

Excerpt
"If I have to reschedule it because of you I'll be mad!  Super MAD!  REALLY REALLY ANGRY!"
"I hear ya - how about I call the shop tomorrow and go over after care?  We've had tattoos before and from I remember after 48 hours is pretty much just wash it gently in the shower, right?"
You started well - acknowledging her concern/anger.  But then you switched into rescuer mode.  You're still appeasing.  (This is a hard thing to recognize until you get a lot of practice, because it's second nature by now.)

You might need to ask more questions here.  "What kind of help do you think you'll need when I'm gone?  That's, what, X days after the tattoo?"

And then if she says she doesn't know, ask what kind of information she needs to make a good decision.
Or if she has specific concerns, you can help her brainstorm solutions.

The key is to help her figure out how to solve her own problem/soothe her own anxiety.  Instead, she dumped her anxiety on you and you came up with a solution to the problem for her.

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« Reply #100 on: June 11, 2021, 09:19:02 PM »

Personally, tattoos are not my thing but I understand people like them, but really when it comes to priorities it's not the end of the world if someone has to reschedule a tattoo appointment for another time. She will still get the tattoo, just at another time.

Yes, our childhoods are very similar. For my mother, any disappointment or misbehavior isn't a small thing. Each one is the crime of the century. Leave a toy out? I'm the worst kid on the planet.


Or do a million things for them and say no to one. " Nobody EVER does anything nice for me".

I also felt I was never good enough for my parents.

There are ways to respond and not rescue.

"I might have to reschedule my tattoo because of your STUPID trip" (this is a tattoo we planned a while ago, she's not getting the one she demanded)"


This is just bait, the co-dependent equivalent of offering an alcoholic a drink. The invitation to try to fix this seriously awful end of the world situation by making an inconvenience YOUR fault.

On our part, the enablers, we want to save face, we don't want to be the bad guy. You don't want her to think you are the worst human being on the planet because she can't get a tattoo when she wants it. The "it's your fault" is victim speak and the temptation is to rescue.

Don't pick up the drink.

Respond but don't rescue: " I understand it's disappointing to think you might have to reschedule. If you feel you need to do this, just let me know and we can arrange a better time"


"If I have to reschedule it because of you I'll be mad!  Super MAD!  REALLY REALLY ANGRY!"

" Yes, I understand that would be upsetting"  

( I too am very frightened of angry people but it's their anger, not mine and we don't have to assume responsibility unless we have caused them harm and then we can apologize.)


"I hear ya - how about I call the shop tomorrow and go over after care?  


NO NO NO. She's a big girl - it's HER tattoo and she needs to call the shop to see what kind of care is needed. Don't tell her she needs to call. Just don't step in and do it for her- let her decide what to do.

" I am available to help you take care of it when I get back. Please let me know if there is something specific I need to do to help you take care of it. "






« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 09:24:50 PM by Notwendy » Logged
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« Reply #101 on: June 11, 2021, 09:49:06 PM »

Chicken and egg question:

Yes a person with BPD may have the emotional capacity of a child or teenager and we need to account for that in our expectations.

While we can't change another person, do pwBPD have the capacity to learn to manage their emotions better - albeit maybe not to the level of "normal" but are they capable of growth?

I think all people are, but to learn - one has to have learning experiences.

We do this with small children- protect them from harmful consequences and challenges but allow them to manage their own upset feelings in an age appropriate manner.

If a toddler is having a tantrum because they want a cookie before dinner, do you give them the cookie because they can't handle their feelings and dedicate yourself to making sure they are not too upset about anything?

Or do you allow them to tantrum and learn to manage the disappointment that they don't get a cookie before dinner?

Which choice will allow them to grow emotionally?

I hope you said no cookie. In the moment, the child won't like you. They will be angry. But the parent tolerates that because they know they are acting in their child's best interest.

It's not an easy decision, but the choice to let them handle their feelings, not rescue, may allow them the chance to learn to manage them better.
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« Reply #102 on: June 13, 2021, 07:36:51 AM »

Thank you everyone!  I really really appreciate the feedback on my responses!  Please keep 'em coming.  I'm starting to understand my part in all this.  Boundaries are one thing but recognizing and breaking my enabling behavior is much harder.

Like FF said I can't expect this trip to go well... If it happens at all it'll be a success!  Even if I get on the plane, land, see my friends at the terminal then have to grab the next flight home it'll be a success.  I haven't shared that with uBPD W but accepting that has given me some peace.

The thought that lead me to accepting this was W's latest uptick.  I'll spare the details but suffice to say it was a very textbook BPD script with a few notable differences.

1. It involved the kids.  She "lost her cool" over something small and I after I calmed them down W came back and made things worse by blaming her behavior on them.  (I carefully told the kids moments before that "Mommy had a hard time regulating her emotions but that's not an excuse for yelling you guys like that.")

2. She linked everything back to the trip.  Not unexpected but this is the first time she's pointed to something farther back than a few hours as a trigger.  "I have to keep everything magical so you can go on your stupid f©cking trip!!"

3. She essentially hid upstairs all day.  I took the afternoon off, hung out with the kids, we did a store run, I made dinner, and put the kids to bed.  As soon as they were done she started in on me.  Typical BPD storm but at one point she said she wanted to kill herself (and gave some details).  I reached for my phone and she started shrieking and started to reach to grab my phone from my hands.  "You're going to call the police and lock me away?!  If you want me to really kill myself send me away!  That'll really do it!"
I don't know who I was going to call but I'm taking all threats seriously.  In all likelihood I was going to call her mom.  She's talked her down before.  I had no idea what to do.  I don't know if her "threat" was serious or not but I feel like that's above my pay grade and not for me to decode.  Is that passing the buck?
She shifts back into accusation mode and heated explains that she's just telling me what her inner dialogue is telling her all the time and that there's new phrases in there because of me and I'm not telling her anything to the contrary so how else is she supposed to feel?

4. The next day after a minor panic attack in the morning she's been in an almost euphoric mood.  Aside from telling me "stop being an a$$hole and making us fight... Just hold me sometimes and tell me nice things about me.  Then we wouldn't fight... but if we're in a bad place you're not going on your trip."
She's demanded I kiss her "properly" throughout the day and it makes me sick.  I'm not physically disuguted by her... I just feel sick around her.  I don't want to be touched- I don't want to touch her.  When she gets like this "over the top affectionate" mode I feel dizzy.

5. I stayed calm.  I redirected as much as I could and I know have room for improvements- telling myself I'm a work in progress.
She keeps saying she's not trying to manipulate me but will then say things like, "I can't believe I'm going to have to let the dogs out in the middle of the night.  You know I'm scared of windows at night.  I'll have to take a flashlight with me and a baseball bat..."  she pauses and looks into my face searching for any kind of waiver and says "... what?  You look like you were going to say something..." in a gentle whisper.
"Nope, why?"
"Oh it just looked like you were thinking that wasn't a great idea..."
"Actually I think it's great you've got a plan.  Whether it's this trip or something else there's probably going to be occasions where I'm not home and it's great you've got an idea.  Well I think I'd like to start the day.  We promised the kids we'd do a few things and I'd like to get to it!"
That actually put the conversation to a halt.
Small steps!

6. This is the big one.
I had to do a quick run to the store.  I said I'd be right back and that their mom was upstairs if they need anything (movie time for the kids).  My daughter almost cried.
"Honey are you okay?  You seem upset?"
"I just want to go with you... Because if I'm with you I won't be here to make mommy mad anymore."
Stomach kick.
At night when I tuck in the kids I set aside time to talk with each one individually (door open so there's no secrets).  My son said he was a little nervous about my trip.  He said he wants to go but also... "I want to... What if mommy and sissy... I just want to go with you!"

Am I reading too much into this or is not so much that they're afraid of me going but that they're afraid of being alone with their mom?  Dad handles everything from breakfast, backing out the car, dishes, and diffusing mommy's "intense" moments.

I feel like I need this trip.  I need to clear my head as far away from W's influence as possible.  But I don't know if I can go if my kids don't feel safe.  I know better than to ask them this directly and I haven't brought it up.

I don't think the kids will be in any physical danger.

My thought is that I need to give my uBPD W the opportunity to pull through.  I want her to be okay.  For us to have any hope of making it she has to be able to handle things without me for a few days.  It's inevitable that we'll be in a situation that I have to be gone for work, family emergency, or something!  In fact when the kids were very little (2 and 1) she went away for 5 days for a family emergency and I held down the fort just fine.  One kid even puked all over the bathroom floor!  We joke about it now and it wasn't a big deal.

The kids have a few more seasons with their therapist before I go.  I have two as well with mine.  My therapist has suggested that if things get out of control while I'm gone that there are plenty of resources around to help her.  Realistically I'll be at least 12 hours away.  Hoping to chat with her aunt today to let her know that W is "just really nervous" about me being gone.  No one in the family knows about my BPD suspicions and I think it's best to keep it that way.
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« Reply #103 on: June 13, 2021, 11:25:07 AM »

A lot to digest there, but I think you are doing an amazing job.  Wish I'd been where you are today a few years ago... my story might be in a happier place.

I would take suicide threats very seriously.  You may want to consider putting a boundary there.  Let her know very diplomatically that any threat of suicide will result in a 911 call, and then follow through.

My thinking is that if the threat is a real threat she needs to be hospitalized to get the help she needs.  Or if it is just a manipulation, you having the boundary there will either stop her from using it or will give her severe consequences for having tested you and make it unlikely to happen again.

My BPDw never used suicide as a threat, just told me how she would do it, explained in detail which states allowed death with dignity for mental conditions, or told me that if events had a different outcome she would have done it.  Never enough to give me what I needed to compel hospitalization.
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« Reply #104 on: June 13, 2021, 12:35:58 PM »

I would strongly recommend you have a back up plan: ie, reliable person to step in to take care of the kids if you need to.

The possibility that your wife might do something drastic to either keep you there or get you back is always there. Since you will be a plane ride away, you won't be able to return quickly as needed.

This doesn't mean not going, but I think it's good to be prepared.

It does concern me that your children said they were afraid to be alone with their mother, but the most concerning statement is :

Because if I'm with you I won't be here to make mommy mad anymore."


The child thinks her mother being angry is her fault. I can relate to this, this is how I felt growing up. My mother also blamed me , told me I was the cause of the issues between her and my father. Your wife may not physically harm them, but feeling responsible for their mother's behavior is concerning.
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« Reply #105 on: June 13, 2021, 01:04:57 PM »


Like FF said I can't expect this trip to go well... If it happens at all it'll be a success!  Even if I get on the plane, land, see my friends at the terminal then have to grab the next flight home it'll be a success.  I haven't shared that with uBPD W but accepting that has given me some peace.
 

Perhaps I was misunderstood. 

Your going on the trip is a success...she will behave badly...and likely do things to try and make you come back.

Unless kids are actually admitted to the hospital for some serious injuries...I would not recommend coming back.

Here is the thing...if your wife cannot handle life alone for a few days...what do you do with an adult like that?

Don't save her from herself and her own consequences....

That is also very different from having a couple local friends "ready" to be babysitters for a couple of hours here and there.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #106 on: June 13, 2021, 01:12:14 PM »

Hello all,

Guts42, kudos to you for holding your ground over your wife's rather extreme protestations.  I agree with Ventak to always take suicide threats very seriously.  It does sound like you're lining up support systems for your kids while you're away, and I agree that it may even be good for your wife to experience this and know she can get through it.  You said:  "Boundaries are one thing, but recognizing and breaking my enabling behavior is much harder."  Amen to that.  Hits me right where I am!

Olafinski, I understand your post because I have chosen (so far) to stay with my uBPDh of 25 years.  There are many reasons for this which I've expounded on in other posts.  Our 3 kids are newly grown-ups and quasi-independent, so we are entering a new "empty nester" phase and I'm struggling mightily emotionally.  Lately it feels like I'm undergoing a surgical procedure without anesthetic, emotionally speaking.  I'm all over the place.  It's like my awareness has peaked, my resolve to change has arrived, yet the question of whether the needed changes can be made from within this marriage looms large.  I am an emotional caretaker, but I long for a more equal partner... my latest vision is one of leading an authentic life where I can be myself, which requires that I have a greater voice in how the money I've earned is spent; how my time is spent; who I spend it with; etc.  My uBPDh is supremely controlling and I've had this "keep the peace at all cost" mantra throughout our 25 years.  It's left me bitter, "unforgiving" (his favorite), and sad.  I love our children very much and they are my greatest support, but I'm really struggling with him.  Some of my kids and friends wish I would leave him, saying "things will never change... we just want to see you happy," etc.  But as Notwendy said below:


The middle road is to work on our part in the dysfunctional dynamics with the goal of possibly decreasing them. This isn't expecting the person to be normal. It's raising our own relationship skills because likely if someone is in a long term relationship with someone with BPD, they play a part in it too. Whatever direction the relationship takes- stay or leave, the skills are helpful regardless. In addition, role modeling these skills for a child will help them in their future relationships. By finding some way to be authentically yourself as much as possible, you are showing your child they can do that as well.

I'm committed to doing that, at least for now, but as I said, I'm feeling so much pain.  Day to day, I am faced with financial considerations (he's pressuring me on many fronts:  home remodel, expensive new vehicle, a joint long-term care insurance policy which I would need to provide seed money for; and if I say "no," I'm the mean parent telling the toddler "no" to a new toy, with the resulting tantrum).  I'm faced with, as Guts42 said, no desire to touch him or to be touched by him.  He's done some pretty crappy things to me lately in his border LION phases.  I think my distancing is completely normal and natural, but it doesn't help in the realm of marital expectations (his, at least).  I spend a lot of time perusing this board for sanity and coping strategies.

I'm not sure I want to stay married to this man (honestly, if he just "went away," I'd feel relief... would I eventually miss him?  IDK, but I'm sure it would be sad) but if I'm honest, I know this is a lifelong problem of mine.  This isn't the first crappy relationship I've been in (it's #2), and I'm still learning to love myself.

So the only thing I know right now is that I'm committed to this in-between-ness, this stage of hyper-awareness (and pain), doing my best to practice new behaviors such as boundaries, and hoping for enough encouragement along the way to keep up my sprits, which have been waning lately.

Oh, did I mention I've stopped coloring my hair?  I'm nearly 60.  I mention this because it's symbolic of my newfound dedication to authenticity.  The question comes down to this for me:  "Can I be ME and stay with my uBPDh?"  Heretofore (25 years), it's been all about pleasing him and trying to assimilate to his culture, his expectations, all the while emotionally bleeding and feeling prideful and martyrish over that... NOT how I want the last 20-30 years of my life (if I'm lucky!) to go... and it's not really a selfish thing, I've realized it's not fair to him either for me to stay at all costs and pretend to love someone who makes me nuts 90% of the time.  Of course, I want to be true to my vows (I know, old-fashioned sounding) and I want, above all else, to be kind... but I'm really, really confused about how to navigate this thing day to day.  Doing the best I can, and so glad for you all, my fellow travelers!
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« Reply #107 on: June 13, 2021, 01:44:13 PM »

I'm not sure I want to stay married to this man (honestly, if he just "went away," I'd feel relief... would I eventually miss him?  IDK, but I'm sure it would be sad)

Of course, I want to be true to my vows (I know, old-fashioned sounding) and I want, above all else, to be kind... but I'm really, really confused about how to navigate this thing day to day.  Doing the best I can, and so glad for you all, my fellow travelers!
Adding this since I think it applies to you and Guts...

I stayed with my uNPDw for 28 years.  Things went south after the first couple, and the last 10-15 I had reached the "relief if she left" stage but stayed "for the kids".  In hindsight, it was the worst decision for the oldest and the best for the youngest.. and I'm unsure if it was best for the youngest as her first husband was an abuser.  However, at least in my experience, I have not regretted leaving that marriage.  I still care for her, but the relief I had felt, turned into my loving my life for essentially the first time ever after separation.

My current problem is that I don't have that "relief if she left" feeling with my diagnosed BPDw (is dBPDw correct?), even though her behaviors are much worse than the uNPDw.  But that's a story told in different threads...
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« Reply #108 on: June 13, 2021, 02:26:08 PM »

Hey Guts42;

Excerpt
5. I stayed calm.  I redirected as much as I could and I know have room for improvements- telling myself I'm a work in progress.
She keeps saying she's not trying to manipulate me but will then say things like, "I can't believe I'm going to have to let the dogs out in the middle of the night.  You know I'm scared of windows at night.  I'll have to take a flashlight with me and a baseball bat..."  she pauses and looks into my face searching for any kind of waiver and says "... what?  You look like you were going to say something..." in a gentle whisper.
"Nope, why?"
"Oh it just looked like you were thinking that wasn't a great idea..."
"Actually I think it's great you've got a plan.  Whether it's this trip or something else there's probably going to be occasions where I'm not home and it's great you've got an idea.  Well I think I'd like to start the day.  We promised the kids we'd do a few things and I'd like to get to it!"
That actually put the conversation to a halt.
Small steps!

Nice job in #5. Sounds like you're getting the hang of some new tools! Good work not picking up aaaallllllllll the bait she scattered in that one.

Also, the more someone has a compulsion to tell me "what they are really like", the more I doubt it. Character and values are evident through behavior and are not created linguistically. She can talk all day about how non-manipulative she is, and it is still her choices and actions that will tell you what is true.

Excerpt
3. She essentially hid upstairs all day.  I took the afternoon off, hung out with the kids, we did a store run, I made dinner, and put the kids to bed.  As soon as they were done she started in on me.  Typical BPD storm but at one point she said she wanted to kill herself (and gave some details).  I reached for my phone and she started shrieking and started to reach to grab my phone from my hands.  "You're going to call the police and lock me away?!  If you want me to really kill myself send me away!  That'll really do it!"
I don't know who I was going to call but I'm taking all threats seriously.  In all likelihood I was going to call her mom.  She's talked her down before.  I had no idea what to do.  I don't know if her "threat" was serious or not but I feel like that's above my pay grade and not for me to decode.  Is that passing the buck?

While she has the freedom to threaten suicide, you also have the freedom to make choices, too. She may not like that after she chooses to threaten, you choose to call someone, yet it's your choice, not hers.

911 is a good option, as would be a local mental health crisis unit, if your area has one. Sometimes they are just "one step down" from 911 and a little more specialized. The one in our area is a sub-group under the 911 umbrella so I suspect they do keep call logs? Could be important to have that documented.

You could also consider a jiu-jitsu move of -- if she threatens suicide, then YOU call the suicide prevention hotline, for YOUR support. I get the vibe that she wants to have her cake and eat it too -- wants all the room for her dysfunctional emotional outbursts without anyone "from outside" seeing it. Depending on how serious she is, you calling the SH, not to "make her" talk to them, but for YOU to have someone to talk to, could be enough of a "natural consequence" to eventually dampen the control she gets from making those threats.

Either way, I would not call her family member. Suicide threats are too much for non-professionals to handle, so there needs to be neutral third-party professional intervention when it happens, whether 911, crisis team, or hotline. And I would not personally shoulder the responsibility for "trying to say the right things to her" in those moments, to "talk her down". No, it is not passing the buck. It's being in touch with reality.

It wouldn't surprise me if SHE, though, tries to "pass the buck" when you attempt to involve a 3rd party. I.e., when she threatens, and you respond with "I really care about your safety, and I'm not equipped to help when I hear suicide threats, so I am calling someone who is"... it would not surprise me if she came back with something like "well you should be able to handle it... you should know me well enough to know if I mean it or not... I'm just expressing myself, you're the problem for taking it seriously..."

Don't let that stop you from reaching out. In fact, that's important information to use to get yourself out of the double bind she's trying to put you it. She's trying to position herself to be always one-up -- either she threatens suicide and gets you to do what she wants that way (she wins), or she threatens and then retracts and makes you the issue for "not understanding what she meant" and then she's one up and wins because "she's right" and you're wrong for not understanding her.

Take that to the professionals: "Hey, my wife threatened suicide, but when I let her know I was calling you guys for help, she said she didn't mean it. What should I do in that situation?"

Let the professionals decide if she meant it or not -- not you. Take the weight off of yourself of trying to decipher her "meaning" and refer to a third party every time. Every time, call them (again, whether 911, crisis team, SH, etc) and say "Well, this time my wife said she would kill herself when I was gone, but when I said I'd stay, she said she still would do it when I was in another room... what should I do, should I try to figure out what she means, etc"

It's not your job to figure out the meaning in her head. She is (sadly) free to threaten whatever she wants, and you have the freedom and right to make whatever choice you want in that situation. If you choose every time to call for 3rd party help then it is too bad if she doesn't like that. You are as free as her to make choices.

Hope this helps,

kells76
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« Reply #109 on: June 13, 2021, 06:26:16 PM »


Here is the thing...if your wife cannot handle life alone for a few days...what do you do with an adult like that?

Don't save her from herself and her own consequences....

Exactly- there's not much I can do.  Evaluating recent events and looking back this is the way it's always been.

Hearing my daughter say she scared to make her mother mad while I'm away (even at the store) was a sobering moment.  Much like NotWendy that was precisely how I felt growing up and I don't want that for my children.

Kells- that's a brilliant idea!  It turns out we've got a local crisis line!  I've added it to my phone.  In reality it is for me.  I don't know what she means so having a professional to call will be great!

I've also casually let the local Aunt know some of what's going on.  I just told her W is having some very high anxiety about me being gone.  She very quickly related that she's noticed W puts a lot on me and that I really should go on this trip.  She said that the kids could even stay with her if need be.  I didn't go into details - just kept it limited to my concerns about her having a hard time handling everything while I'm gone and that she might feel overwhelmed.

I feel MUCH better knowing there's someone nearby who can get to the kids if need be.

I don't like how "pivotal" this trip has become but the outcome will determine how things go with our marriage.  If she can't handle me being gone for a few days then quite frankly I don't know why we're together.
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« Reply #110 on: June 13, 2021, 07:28:49 PM »

Thank goodness for the aunt.

If not this time, I'd take her up on her offer some time. It would be good for all involved.

I spent a lot of time staying with Dad's relatives. It was a respite for us too. We didn't have to walk on eggshells or fear mother's moods.

As I said before, anything slight was the "crime of the century" with BPD mom. But kids are kids. If we got into mischief with our cousins, we would be reprimanded, but we didn't fear their reactions like we did BPD mom. In addition, they were more "normal" role models for us.
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« Reply #111 on: June 13, 2021, 08:28:27 PM »


I don't like how "pivotal" this trip has become but the outcome will determine how things go with our marriage. 

Well...probably a bit too far in the other direction. 

This is a big deal and it CAN be a turning point...if you hold to your course.  If you don't hold your course your current "rut" will be deeper and harder to get out of...

If you do hold your course, the next one will be easier...and easier after that...

Best,

FF
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« Reply #112 on: June 13, 2021, 09:45:04 PM »

One more thought...

It struck me that it could be important to share your W's suicide threats with the kids' therapists.

Something like:

"W threatened suicide last week in front of me, so I called the crisis team. I'm concerned that the kids will overhear her in the future. What do you recommend I do if she threatens suicide in front of the kids? How can I best support the kids and what they would need?"

where the focus is on you supporting your children. Which is true; with their mom struggling, they will need extra help.

But, it also gets out there, in front of a licensed professional, that there is serious stuff going on in your home. So you no longer have to "keep the secret" that W is threatening to kill herself. And, if W goes in to a session and is like, I didn't mean it, Guts42 totally misunderstood me... so what. There still gets to be a conversation around -- how does this impact the kids. If Guts42, as an adult, could potentially misunderstand W's "self expression"... how much more could kids "misunderstand" what Mom is doing, if that makes sense. Like, if you can't even tell if she means it, and you think she does, wouldn't your kids even more be worried?

I don't see a downside to telling the kids' T's. True, W will probably have some kind of backlash. Maybe share that with the T also? Your concern that you talking about the threat will trigger some lashing out by W, and you want to make sure the kids aren't the targets.
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« Reply #113 on: June 13, 2021, 10:31:03 PM »

I agree with kells - talk to the kids' therapists about mom's suicide threats. 

Has she ever said anything like that around the kids before?

The pivotal moment for us in filing for custody of SD was finding out SD (then almost 11) was afraid to sleep at mom's house because she thought mom would kill herself if SD wasn't watching.

mom had made a lot of comments to other people who weren't SD about "the world would be better off without me", etc, and SD was so trained to manage mom's emotions that she appointed herself as mom's protector.  It broke my heart.

mom was not actually suicidal and "had no idea how SD got that idea", but SD was a kid who listened. She had to, to try to keep mom's emotions stable.
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« Reply #114 on: June 14, 2021, 12:41:58 AM »

I would take suicide threats very seriously.  You may want to consider putting a boundary there.  Let her know very diplomatically that any threat of suicide will result in a 911 call, and then follow through.

We are not qualified to judge whether a person's suicidal threats are real or just pressuring and manipulation.  That's why we call emergency services, they're trained to handle such situations.

However, be forewarned that if you do call for an emergency response, the odds are high that she would claim she's fine, Deny she ever uttered such things and probably even claim you're the troubled person.

That's one of the reasons I recorded in the months before my marriage imploded when there were incidents, or when I feared incidents were primed to happen.  That was over 15 years ago, we didn't have cell phones that could record back then, so I used audio recording devices.  Some may worry that it might not be right to record someone else.  But I reasoned I had to protect myself and my parenting, I needed to document I wasn't the one misbehaving, I needed to document she wasn't the helpless scared victim she'd likely claim to be.  And if she happened to get recorded claiming suicidal, ranting, raging and making demands for compliance...
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« Reply #115 on: June 14, 2021, 05:54:22 AM »

I've had a few people recommend recording.  I thought it wasn't "legal" to record an adult without consent and that doing so might get me in trouble if it comes up down the road (say in theory at divorce court of custody)?

At this point I think it's worth the risk and I'm kicking myself for not recording.  However I've got this sinking feeling that I'll have ample opportunity before I head to the airport.
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« Reply #116 on: June 14, 2021, 06:33:19 AM »


Check if your state is a "single party consent" state for recording.

Even if not, check the penalties for doing so.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #117 on: June 14, 2021, 07:40:44 AM »

Dang it... We're a single party consent state.  Well good to know moving forward.
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« Reply #118 on: June 14, 2021, 08:24:23 AM »

I was going to suggest that you check that. My state is single-party consent as well (which I know from my days as a journalist). As long as one person being recorded knows, it’s ok. I’ve recorded and saved a fair number of my H’s outbursts without his knowledge. I don’t know if they’ll ever be useful legally speaking. But one thing I find personally helpful is those recordings help ground me. If I ever start doubting my memory, my judgment, my sanity, etc., I can listen and realize that, no, I’m not making it all up.
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« Reply #119 on: June 14, 2021, 10:03:04 AM »

My H has an app on his phone that auto records all calls.  That was useful when his ex was having frequent meltdowns on the phone.
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« Reply #120 on: June 14, 2021, 10:36:55 AM »


Looking for advice on how to end this relationship.  She's a master at blame shifting, gaslighting, manipulation.

 

So..recognize that and don't participate in those aspects of your relationship.  100% your choice..she doesn't get a "vote".

Such as..."we've had several long talks..."

She "voted" to have a long talk...and you "voted" to have a long talk and the long talks happened.  What got resolved?

So...next time she "votes' for a long talk...you "vote" for a short one or

"hey Babe...I've got a couple minutes here, help me understand what new information you have about this issue.."

or

"I'm curious about the new information you have?"

Best,

FF
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« Reply #121 on: June 15, 2021, 03:28:45 AM »

Some have observed that the one party rule doesn't apply to abusive situations.  Something to judge for yourself?

Some have commented that recording may not be as useful in court as in being helpful in case the police get involved with a he-said vs she-said claims.

As for fears of having the book thrown at you, I've been here for some 15 years.  I recall only a few parents told by the court to stop recording... and that was to stop recording the children.  IMHO I wouldn't worry overmuch about recording, use appropriate caution and a judicious dose of common sense.
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« Reply #122 on: June 15, 2021, 06:14:18 AM »

After doing some research on local laws I think I'm all clear to record so long as it isn't of the kids intentionally.  From my understanding if I catch her screaming at the kids and they happen to be in the background that's okay.  It's not okay to specifically record the kids relating a story to me while I record- which I think is fair.

Currently I'm spun mentally.  Ever since the suicide threats she's been in "super-mom" mode.  Arts-n-crafts, story time, tea party, present planning, play date planning... She's also been very forward with affection.  It's such a 180 that it's unnerving and makes my skin crawl.

I'm terrified to resist her advances for fear of yet another outburst.

Another note on recording her, I think I have what would be considered good-cause.  She's been committed before (at first voluntarily but then out on a hold).  I feel like I'm betraying her even writing that... She still blames me for the whole thing.  In fact when she thought I was going to call the police she started screaming about how "locking her up is the biggest trauma" carries and that "it's because YOU didn't listen to me!". The only diagnosis she got was GAD but she refused to participate in anything, starved herself, and blamed me for her being there the entire time.  If I record her outburst this it might be helpful for the professionals.

I also like the idea of having it for me to reflect on in moments like this - where I question myself!
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« Reply #123 on: June 15, 2021, 06:30:54 AM »

Well you beat me to it as I was going to mention another way to "influence" is to be super nice, loving, and now here you are.

I guess it's up to you to decide if it's sincere or manipulation. As to manipulation, that has a sinister tone to it but it's really about doing what works to get what one wants. And for someone with BPD, the motivation may be to ease their own pain. They may not be thinking of how it affects you, so it may not feel to them like they are manipulating you.

People use the tools they have in their interactions.

You will know if it's sincere or manipulation by the way YOU feel. Pay attention to how you are feeling. Sometimes when my BPD mother is being nice to me, I feel really icky. I get that skin crawl feeling you described. Trust your gut with this. You have seen this before.

I was visiting my mother recently and the neighbors came over with their children. I could see the transformation into "super grandma"- she was just wonderful to them. Grandma of the year. This is NOT the mother I know her as. As soon as they left, she was back to herself.
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« Reply #124 on: June 15, 2021, 07:35:09 AM »

Hi NotWendy!

I am constantly amazed at how similar our stories are!

I don't talk to my mother anymore.  She tried to guilt/manipulate me into putting my children into the same room as a known pedophile all because she wanted to show them off to her sister.  That was it for me!  The fallout from that was colossal - no one on her side of the family will talk with me... there's supposedly some inheritance that she gets now that I've been excommunicated...but that's a tale for another day!

Like you said, it may not be intentional manipulation.  I don't think it is but my radar is telling me this isn't right.  I've absolutely been here before.  This is what's worked for her in the past so she's using it again.  Her frustration and fear is understandable as these tools don't seem to be working as well.

She's made a few subtle comments though and had a few minor "snaps" at me and the kids since.  Nothing major just small reminders that the surface may look calm but under water the current is as strong as ever!
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« Reply #125 on: June 15, 2021, 07:49:49 AM »

Setting boundaries with my mother also caused a fallout with my parents. As they approached adolescence, she began to enlist them as her emotional caretakers. I didn't leave her alone with them when they were small- but small children need constant supervision anyway. As adolescents, she was beginning to take them off with her in another room, triangulate them against me, confide in them TMI. I also got into conflict with her over my father who was ill.

Her family didn't speak to me for a long time. I didn't stop contact with her though, as she is elderly and on her own. I have also learned about BPD due to the conflicts and my interactions with her are not as difficult for me thankfully. I think as you learn more, you will be less emotionally reactive to the drama, both at home and if you every are in contact with your mother.
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« Reply #126 on: June 15, 2021, 08:39:48 AM »

You're right- as my mindset shifts from thinking I'm dealing with someone just being controlling and possessive and towards there's a clinical disorder going on here the easier it is to not take it personally and feel so hurt by it.  The behavior is not excused but a little knowledge has gone a long way towards shaping my approach/responses.

I don't know if I'll ever speak to my mother again.  She's remarried and has spun some magnificent tale of what an awful spiteful child I was growing up and into my adult life.  I've started talking to my brother again which has been great!  He used to be an unwitting informant for her but he's out from under her thumb.

Starting to let myself get excited about the trip.  There are two things I could really use but I'm hesitant to purchase anything!  In part because I'd hate to purchase something and not go but also because things seem calm now and I don't want to rock the boat.
Is that giving into her behavior?
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« Reply #127 on: June 15, 2021, 09:00:12 AM »

I think if my mother were younger and remarried, she'd probably cut me off.

There are two things I could really use but I'm hesitant to purchase anything!  In part because I'd hate to purchase something and not go but also because things seem calm now and I don't want to rock the boat.
Is that giving into her behavior?


 Changing our part in the dynamics is a work in progress. I think it's more sustainable to take it one step at a time. You already have the trip drama to hold up your boundary with, and that alone is a challenge. Doing too much might overextend your emotional capacity due to the reaction.

In co-dependency work, much was redirected to looking at myself, my feelings, and what I could deal with.

" I won't buy something I want because she might get mad" is being codependent.

"I won't buy something I want right now because I really want to go on this trip and that's about all I can handle right now, however I will plan to buy it later" is self care and not being co-dependent.

It's about your thinking about the choices.

In the first one, you are acting in fear, feeling like a victim " I can't do this because she will be mad"

In the second one you are owning your choice. " I won't do this now as I feel I have enough to deal with but I will plan to do it later".
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« Reply #128 on: June 15, 2021, 09:20:59 AM »

Thanks!  That's where my head is at:
"I'm at my emotional limit."
Between the excitement about seeing my friends and all the drama about the trip (and anticipated trials leading up to/after take off) adding the stress of purchasing two things that would be nice (but not necessary) just isn't worth it.  Yes, I'm worried it would set her off but it's more that I'm so drained it isn't worth the energy right now.
So, it's little bit of both but I'm also giving myself permission to be there!  Like you said the trip is a BIG deal and that's what needs my attention.
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« Reply #129 on: June 15, 2021, 11:09:14 AM »


OK...my curiosity has spiked here.

What two things?

Does your wife control/approve everything you buy?  Or does she just "comment" on things she doesn't approve of?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #130 on: June 15, 2021, 01:38:23 PM »

Starting to let myself get excited about the trip.  There are two things I could really use but I'm hesitant to purchase anything!  In part because I'd hate to purchase something and not go but also because things seem calm now and I don't want to rock the boat.
Is that giving into her behavior?

Like NotWendy, this paragraph caught my attention.  While it may be your practical, cautious side, it may also be you timidly setting yourself up so any pressure to make you cancel your trip will make it easier to cancel without financial pain.

"I'm sorry, honey, if I cancel now then the money I paid for the flight, cabin reservations and excursions is totally lost and all because of some mild or intangible matters?"  Ack, that might be JADEing and doesn't work well by itself to counter emotional manipulation, but you get the idea.  Maybe SET... Support, Empathy, Truth.

How determined are you to go?  (Unless the house is on fire...)  You already have an aunt and perhaps others who can hover around the kids.  After all, it's only four days.  For example, imagine if you had the flu and stayed in bed for four days, would the family fall apart?  It's all in the perspective.
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« Reply #131 on: June 15, 2021, 01:40:30 PM »

Money and spending issues are common with BPD relationships. It's also a big issue to unravel. I'm curious too but also think maybe one big issue at a time is enough. Yes, it need to be unraveled but taking on two changes at once might be overwhelming for all involved.

I sometimes decide to "go with the flow" when I feel I don't have the reserves or interest to resist it. It's more about "picking the battle". Sad that it is a conflict to begin with, but it is what it is.

Change is sometimes two steps forward, one step back. But keeping at it will lead to change.

All focus on going on the trip is probably the best path for now. If the purchases of other things can wait, I'd wait on that.
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« Reply #132 on: June 15, 2021, 03:55:45 PM »

FF - new hydration back pack and some hiking boots.  New boots would be nice but not a necessity.  My friend said I can borrow a camelpak.

We just had a great chat with the kids' therapists and they told my W me going would be great for the kids.  One even said to me (with my W in the room) "you can't let their tears stop you from going.  At this point you have to go so they can see it'll be okay."

After that my uBPD's narrative has shifted to "but what if the kids' emotions are too big?!  What if they're not okay- more than just 'normal' tears?!"
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« Reply #133 on: June 15, 2021, 04:30:31 PM »

Excerpt
"but what if the kids' emotions are too big?!  What if they're not okay- more than just 'normal' tears?!"

If you think you need to engage with that, then perhaps:

"I'm so glad we have the kids' counselors as resources!"

and then something where you're not rescuing:

"I'm sure you'll know if it's the right time to call them"

and/or

"I have confidence you'll get their feedback if it's more than normal tears"

etc.
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« Reply #134 on: June 15, 2021, 08:03:54 PM »

After that my uBPD's narrative has shifted to "but what if the kids' emotions are too big?!  What if they're not okay- more than just 'normal' tears?!"

My take on that is it's another moment-of-truth thing -- she's not talking about the kids.... she's talking about herself.

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« Reply #135 on: June 16, 2021, 07:39:36 AM »

I'm curious too but also think maybe one big issue at a time is enough.


Change is sometimes two steps forward, one step back. But keeping at it will lead to change.

All focus on going on the trip is probably the best path for now. If the purchases of other things can wait, I'd wait on that.


That's for taking care of my curiosity.  You have the water thing handled by borrowing and should the existing footwear fall apart on you...I'm sure you can grab a replacement at a local store.

Nothing in what you said raised red flags for me and I'm 100% onboard with keeping focus on the issue at hand.

I also want to encourage you that "holding a boundary" may result in a big "nothing burger" from your wife.  As in you go on the trip and she kinda ignores the entire thing and even acts like it was a great idea/her idea later on/after. 

That's kinda what happened with my first boundary/extinction burst.  Lots of crazy and then.... "poof"...she didn't care.

You've got this...

Best,

FF


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« Reply #136 on: June 16, 2021, 10:48:25 AM »

Thanks!

Strangely... after holding firm (well... just not giving in) during the post-kid-therapists talk she's been in a fantastic mood!

She's asserted for about a year or so now that her issue isn't really anxiety or anything but PMDD mixed with ADHD.  I don't know what all to make of it... but she says her "hormone surge" is over and she's feeling okay again (even great!).  She actually took the kids to see a movie and is okay with her and the kids having dinner at a friend's house tomorrow if a playdate runs long...?

I have been here before... where everything seems suddenly normal.
Very glad I have this community and forum here so I can reflect because right now I feel like I might be the 'crazy' one.

So two questions then:
1) Anyone else with a uBPD/BPD female partner notice behavioral changes depending on cycle status?
2) Is it possible that this new "happy" behavior is part of the program?  After me almost calling the police/crisis hotline/mother and now validation for the trip from the kids' therapists... is it likely she's going into "see, it's nothing!  I knew it all along.. YOU'RE the one who made a big deal about it!"

BTW another bonus point of not buying new stuff - less to pack!
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« Reply #137 on: June 16, 2021, 11:10:03 AM »

Oh, how I know that “am I crazy?” feeling! You’re not alone.

In my uBPDH’s case, he tends to have rages. Once he does, he’s often very cheerful or, sometimes, conciliatory. Regardless, I’m not as quick to recover. When he goes a long time without an episode, I start to wonder if I was imagining things or blowing things out of proportion. Listening to recordings or rereading journal entries helps ground me.

It’s quite possible she’s going into a “it’s nothing!” phase. Time will tell. With my H, I don’t know if it’s conscious gaslighting/manipulation or just that he’s feeling better so, therefore, reality is different. I just know that while these “happier” times can be a relief, in a way, they can also be very difficult. It’s almost like being in a room with a dog that kept snarling at you and biting you that suddenly acts friendly and wants you to pet it.
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« Reply #138 on: June 16, 2021, 11:39:00 AM »


Yes...it's "part of the program", although it's unlikely she has "thought it through".

It's more her moods shift and she grabs a tool to use..vice thinks about it.

Or she realizes X isn't working...so she grabs another tool.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #139 on: June 17, 2021, 06:08:54 AM »

FF - nail on the head as usual!

And we're back to me being awful again

We were syncing our planners and she "realized" how close the trip is and I could see her face twist into "the look.". My son was upstairs and I didn't want him to hear any of it so I left the room to get him back downstairs.  I'll admit I didn't say a word to my W.  It felt like we were heading right back into fight mode and anything I say would just make it worse.  Looking back I should have said something...

So now we're fighting... Or rather she's furious because she's "never heard" and is "the least important person in the house."
I explained why I left the room and apologized and acknowledged I should have at least said something to acknowledge I saw she was upset... But it's "too late."

Another 3 hour lecture of how awful I am.  Everything I said was skillfully returned as my fault or ate least not her's.

A few standouts though...
"if I ask you not to go and you go then you won't have a family to come home to.  I won't ask that but I'm just saying..."
"It's like this trip is more important than me!  You're basically willing to throw out whole relationship out so you can go!"
"I don't know if things would be better if you stayed, but I know they'd be easier.  The kids would be happy Dad's home."
"I also think the therapists is wrong- you staying wouldn't be detrimental.  I don't think it matters."
"So you know what, go on your trip.  Go have fun and we'll just see how things are when you get back."
"Everyone will be fine except me because I'm the least important person in this family"

That feels like a threat?
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« Reply #140 on: June 17, 2021, 07:44:24 AM »


So...one the one hand "one thing at a time" seems wise...on the other hand...a "three hour anything" with a pwBPD is no good.

I also don't think apologizing for simply leaving the room and coming back is appropriate/helpful/healthy.

In fact..use that to your advantage..

"oh hey babe...my mind is a million miles away, this issue seems important.  Let's push pause and discuss it over brunch tomorrow..after I've woken up and had coffee."

or...

"Oh hey..what new information do you have on this issue?"  if she wants to rehash...decline and go for a walk.  Only deal with "new".

There are a million ways to do this....I can't imagine sitting and "discussing" the trip for 30 minutes...let alone 3 hours is productive.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #141 on: June 17, 2021, 08:54:50 AM »

Guts, FF is so right about the 3-hour “discussions.” This is something I regularly deal with and that, nearly three years after coming to this site, I still struggle with. When you love someone and they’re in pain, it’s SOOOO difficult to walk away sometimes. I’m still trying to find what works for me. Baby steps. But extricating yourself and not participating are so important. She won’t like it. If she’s like my uBPDH, that’s a big part of how she copes — dumping her emotions onto you. But it’s a pattern to break.

Anyway, on her threats, it sounds to me (I could be wrong) that she’s doing the emotional equivalent of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Maybe not even consciously. She’s just trying every possible tactic looking for the magic thing that will get you to do what she wants. Which makes it so important that you hold firm. Think of it (again, not trying to infantalize anyone) like a small child who wants something. Mommy says no. The child will try all sorts of things: tantrum, throwing things, threats (“I’ll run away!” “I won’t love you anymore!”), even guilt and other forms of manipulation (“Daddy would get it for me”). What should the parent do?

My H makes threats, too, which I just ignore because I know he’s not actually going to do the things he says. Our situation is a bit different, though, as we don’t have children together. How did you respond to her threats?
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« Reply #142 on: June 17, 2021, 01:57:08 PM »

It's all about her, her perceptions, her feelings, her whatever.  Sure, she throws in how the kids will be so hurt but really it's about her.

Have you tried deflecting some of this pushback by giving her the idea you all can take a weekend trip somewhere, camping, hiking, a theme park, etc?  Maybe planning subsequent excursions.  Of course she will see it as "you can never make up for what you're doing now" but at least it's you offering some various positives for the summer.  As in, this one trip isn't all that is done in the upcoming months.
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« Reply #143 on: June 17, 2021, 02:25:30 PM »


Deflecting and distracting are kissing cousins.

Might also toss in something sooner.

"Oh babe...I'm tapped out on discussing this trip, however the farmers market tomorrow looks like fun...want to come together on an outing for that?"

See...you haven't really given a hard no....yet still communicate you are done on one issue...and are holding open the door for something fun.  She gets to choose which door to walk through.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #144 on: June 17, 2021, 02:39:10 PM »

ForeverDad, it's funny... when I first started planning this trip we were originally thinking a weekend in early Fall.  That same day my wife booked a family getaway at some water park resort for that weekend.

I've offered and encouraged her to have a girls weekend away for years!  She just says things like "I can't leave" or "I don't get to."
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« Reply #145 on: June 18, 2021, 08:48:21 AM »

One principle of all behaviors is that there is a payoff and a cost. As long as the payoff ( benefit) outweighs the cost, the behavior will continue.

This is true even for behaviors that have a high cost, such as addiction. The high and dependence drives the addiction to the detriment of the person doing it.

There is a payoff to victim perspective- and that is, the absence of being held accountable for behaviors. IMHO the driving force for this is the pain of feeling shame. If a pwBPD has a poor sense of self, shame feels like self destruction. The shame would be unbearable. Taking Victim perspective is not necessarily a conscious thing- it's a protective defense.

Nothing you can do will change this kind of thinking. In the Triangle, you are either the Rescuer- relieving her feelings, doing what she wants/needs, or you become the Persecutor. Since the feelings are within her, the effects of Rescuer are temporary. One can relieve the problem in the moment, but her feelings are not under your control.

One thing that makes this kind of thinking difficult is that it makes reciprocity impossible. Even in friendships, there's an unspoken trade off and shared things. You know if you do your buddy a favor, they would do one for you if you asked. You may cover for your coworker on one day when they need to be off. They will also be willing to cover for you. Yet, Victim perspective seems to be a debt one can not ever pay off- yet we keep trying because we want to reach balance. But we may not be able to.

So what does one do? I think to manage this, we have to be very certain of our own ethics and values. If you want to do something nice for her, do it because you choose to, because you think it's the right thing to do. If she asks you to do something, use your own measure of what is good and what isn't good- and not with intent to fix or change her. Do things that you are willing to do, but saying "yes" when you really mean "no" repeatedly will lead to resentment on your part. Acting according to our ethics and values is important for our own self esteem.

Offer to send her on a girls' weekend trip- not to even the score or to change her feelings, but because it's a nice thing to do. Then it's up to her- she can go, or not.

Staying focused on our on values is a boundary. Someone can accuse you of anything but you have to have a hold on what is true and what isn't true about you. We can and should include ourselves in this boundary. We don't have to accept abusive behavior or allow someone else to harm us. Consider that if we do enable abusive behavior, we are allowing the other person to be abusive- and that isn't good for them.






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« Reply #146 on: June 23, 2021, 06:48:25 AM »

I very nearly gave in.
I think she's got the kids so wrapped up in her anxiety that they can't tell how they feel from how she feels.  A few nights ago the kids expressed some big anxiaties and fears about me going.
I spent the next 18 hours trying to come to terms with not going.  My wife ate it up and was (disturbingly) sweet and caring.

I almost gave in.

That evening while I was working she burst into the home office and started screaming/crying "you have to go!  If you don't go that'll be the end of us because you'll resent me forever!"  She then darted back into our room.  I made the mistake of following.

Before I could even sit down her tone switched to white hot anger.
"You don't give a sh@t about me!  I was hurt for three days because of YOU!  And what did you do?  Nothing!!  Meanwhile today you're hurt and I can't stand it!  It's because I love you more than you love me!  Just admit it!"
This was during the time I was very very close to canceling my trip.
I started to cave.  I started to convince her why I shouldn't go.  Then I saw "the face."  She was still getting angrier and angrier.
That did the trick.
I stopped talking and went quiet.  In my heart it felt like a rolling security door was just about to close but was then yanked open with tremendous force.  Everything came flooding back and I realized that at this point I have to go.
She didn't take that well.

Now she's threatening divorce and is just about not talking to me.  She's also not letting me do anything for her and making a very big deal about it.

The trip is coming up in a few days... and now she's saying my son is sick.  His "fever" is below 100 (he's hovering between 98.3 and 99.1).  Apparently she told my son that if he's sick (feels "sick enough") Dad won't go...

It doesn't help that we had another chat with the kids' therapists and both said me going would be beneficial and not going would be a step backwards.  My wife then mentioned the "fever" and actually told one of the therapists that if it is contagious (allergies I suspect) then I can't go because she's going to get it and whatever the kids get she gets worse and that I have to stay home to take care of her.

It was subtle but the therapist's jaw dropped.
I think that threw the therapist who then made an almost political statement about covid but I didn't think anything of it.  It was an incomplete ramble that meant nothing.  Of course my wife is now saying she's a conspiracy theorist and she doesn't trust her with kids mental health...

I'm taking my son to the doctor in a few hours.  My wife is going to try the covid angle.  She said that if they suspect covid and do a test I'm not allowed to get on a plane and that I need to "wrap my head around not going"

Good times.
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« Reply #147 on: June 23, 2021, 09:18:52 AM »

There are many places where I live that do 1 hour Covid testing.. you may want to look into that in advance so you can take your son there directly after the doctor visit.
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« Reply #148 on: June 23, 2021, 09:25:35 AM »

Trip cancelled.
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« Reply #149 on: June 23, 2021, 10:51:58 AM »

Trip cancelled.

Ugg..let's hear it. 

If it can be cancelled..it can be revived.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #150 on: June 23, 2021, 10:53:31 AM »


So..sometimes the long term plans are bad.

Much better to be "impulsive" and just go on short notice.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Best,

FF
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« Reply #151 on: June 23, 2021, 12:10:02 PM »

I can only imagine, but actually have seen this dynamic over and over.....

I don't think this is a total loss. I think regardless of if you had the trip or not, you have learned a lot. One thing you have learned is just how far your wife will go to get the outcome she wants.

One reason I don't think we are an equal match to this is that our own conscience would stop us from going that far. I don't think it's a lack of conscience on the part of someone with BPD but perhaps a lack of empathy and the feeling of victim hood that gets them to go this far.

Example, you wouldn't beat someone up on the street, but if you believed they were attacking you, you would. This is metaphorically speaking - emotionally if your wife truly believes you are the cause of her emotional distress- over your decision to go on a trip, she will fight against it as if she was being attacked.

What we have found, (kids of BPD mom) is that if something is important to us, we do not tell her unless she needs to know and don't tell her until the last minute if she does.

But something like a trip- which requires planning and child care, really can't be done without discussion. I don't think it was a bad decision to not go from the viewpoint of the kids. From what I can read on your thread and from my own experience, your wife is not a reliable caretaker for your kids for something like an out of town trip.

It may not seem fair from the point of view of a normal marriage that you can't go on this trip, but the way it worked out, I think from the perspective of the kids, something like this might need to wait until they are older and you are able to send them to stay with relatives or something like that, but make it as if it was a fun thing for them.

In our situation, we stayed with my father's family and it was a fun time with our cousins.

But besides the kids one needs to question- is your wife able to be on her own? I know my mother is not. BPD is a spectrum though and not all pwBPD are in this situation.

I think this has given you a lot to think about.
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« Reply #152 on: June 23, 2021, 12:19:24 PM »


You also need to consider and "deal with" the apparent threat that if a therapist "doesn't give her the answer she wants"...."she might not trust them with her kids mental health."

Not an immediate issue/emergency...but you need to keep this on your list of things to address.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #153 on: June 23, 2021, 01:49:26 PM »

This was all very intense. What have you learned from this experience?
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« Reply #154 on: June 23, 2021, 02:18:45 PM »


It doesn't help that we had another chat with the kids' therapists and both said me going would be beneficial and not going would be a step backwards.  My wife then mentioned the "fever" and actually told one of the therapists that if it is contagious (allergies I suspect) then I can't go because she's going to get it and whatever the kids get she gets worse and that I have to stay home to take care of her.

It was subtle but the therapist's jaw dropped.
I think that threw the therapist who then made an almost political statement about covid but I didn't think anything of it.  It was an incomplete ramble that meant nothing.  Of course my wife is now saying she's a conspiracy theorist and she doesn't trust her with kids mental health...

Ooof. I think your therapist dropped the ball here (IMHO as a student therapist). I would hope in a similar situation, I would explore your wife's responsibility versus yours. Why is it your duty to take care of her? What would she do to take care of herself if she were not married?

I mean, my late husband was on a business trip when I came down with pink eye in both eyes and was in bed for three days. I managed just fine.

If your therapist's mouth dropped open, that really shows your wife pulled out all the stops! However, it's their job to stay calm and to explore what your wife just revealed, rather than bring their personal views into the conversation.

I have some words of caution for you moving forward. Please take into account that these are based on my own experience with an undiagnosed pwBPD.

Others have speculated whether your wife is capable of caring for your kids by herself. I think you should explore whether she is incapable, or just doesn't WANT to. People with BPD seem to have very little tolerance for handling anything remotely difficult. I have noticed a pattern with my partner in which she tries to bail out of anything emotionally or physically difficult by putting the responsibility on me.

I know you can't take a chance with your kids if she's truly incapable. I agree it's a good idea to have backup to step in to help with the kids. But I think you should consider, in therapy if possible, whether this is just another manipulation.
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« Reply #155 on: June 23, 2021, 03:03:04 PM »

I get the distinction, but from the kids' point of view, it might not matter.

Not wanting to do it is bad enough. I know I have been there and it's not good for kids. My BPD mother was somewhat capable, I mean we would not have starved or been left alone with dirty clothes. But her emotional lability led to a lot of verbal and emotional abuse, rages, trashing the house and complaining about my father in front of us. She was at her worst when she was alone with us and nobody could see or hear it.

It's likely a combination of both- manipulating because she doesn't want to and a lack of emotional stability to handle kids for that long on her own.

I don't think my BPD mother would have been a serious danger to my children in terms of their physical well being,  but I never left them alone with her as I couldn't trust what she'd say or do if nobody else was looking.

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« Reply #156 on: June 23, 2021, 03:53:52 PM »

I get the distinction, but from the kids' point of view, it might not matter.

Not wanting to do it is bad enough. I know I have been there and it's not good for kids. My BPD mother was somewhat capable, I mean we would not have starved or been left alone with dirty clothes. But her emotional lability led to a lot of verbal and emotional abuse, rages, trashing the house and complaining about my father in front of us. She was at her worst when she was alone with us and nobody could see or hear it.

It's likely a combination of both- manipulating because she doesn't want to and a lack of emotional stability to handle kids for that long on her own.

I don't think my BPD mother would have been a serious danger to my children in terms of their physical well being,  but I never left them alone with her as I couldn't trust what she'd say or do if nobody else was looking.

Good point. For the kids, it's a distinction without a difference.

I am truly sorry you're going through this. It's such a tough spot to be in. (HUGS)

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« Reply #157 on: June 23, 2021, 03:56:24 PM »

Good point. For the kids, it's a distinction without a difference.

I am also super concerned how she gets the kids wound up when she herself is dysregulating. I am afraid they will learn either that it's someone else's job to take care of their emotions, or that they need to take outsized responsibility for others' feelings. I am so glad they're in therapy.

I am truly sorry you're going through this. It's such a tough spot to be in. (HUGS)


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« Reply #158 on: June 24, 2021, 03:47:39 AM »

Thanks Rita- I'm an adult now, and so can manage her behavior better. I share the experiences if they can be helpful to others. It is different from the child's point of view. I think if the non-BPD parent can think of the unfairness of their situation as being better for the children, it may help a bit.

But it's also not good to role model being an enabler and give up all of who they are either. I think the trip would have been a good thing, and I think this was a lesson on how to be able to do things like that. If child care is needed to be able to do something- that has to not be left to an unreliable person- even if someone is capable, they can still be unreliable and back out - which would make the trip not possible.

For Guts, I think looking into the possibility of the kids staying with the aunt might be something to consider. It's easier to do these things when they are older. If the aunt lives nearby and the kids are in school, then that's also a good arrangement as they are occupied a good part of the day.

This trip didn't work out but I think seeing the patterns and how things evolved may help in planning things in the future.
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« Reply #159 on: June 24, 2021, 06:34:24 AM »

I've learned a lot from this.

My son has a bit of a cough but made it through the night just fine.  She's Yesterday got my daughter convinced She's sick now... when I took the kiddos temperatures it was never above 99 (within the margin of error for normal) when my uBPD wife took somehow it was frequently at 100... still within the margin of error.  She doted on both kids and started waiting on them saying things like "oh no!  You poor things!  Here's an ice pack, let me make you some special tea that help you feel better- how about some extra honey?  Don't you worry, if you guys are sick your father isn't going."

I was trying to get some work done when she came in flashing the latest thermometer read.  She said something like "even if it isn't contagious you promised him!  Well he's sick!"

She stormed out.
I canceled my trip.  Ashamed to admit it, but I broke down crying.  She "sensed" and came back in.

"I canceled it.  Done deal."
"I'm sorry you're not going."
I gufaw... "no you're not."
"Don't snap at me!!  I DIDNT DO
ANYTHING WRONG!"
"I'm not snapping... I'm just sad which I think is fair enough"
"This has never been about you going or not!  Why don't you listen to me!?  I can't help that the kids are sick!  I didn't do that!  I thought you'd want to be here while they're sick?!"
"Please just go... I need some space to process"
"I'm not leaving you while you're upset! That's what you do to me and it sucks! I'm not you!"
"Please just leave alone, I'll be fine in a bit, I just want to distract myself with work."

We took the kids to the doctor who clocked their "fevers" at 97.8 and both had perfect pulse and 0² stats.  Negative for strep, covid tests pending.  The doctor didn't want to do a covid test but guess who pushed for it?

Magically after the doctor's the kids seem fine.  Not. A. Single. Cough.
They're well enough we go out to lunch!  During this she's holding my hand, leaning on me, demanding affection from me and getting extremely agitated if I don't comply... more mini fits.

We get home and something in me just snaps.  I mop and vacuum the entire house.  I clean the ceiling fans, and I get diffusers going in every room.
While they watch TV.
While I'm cleaning I feel like I'm having a nervous breakdown.  I'm shaking and trying so hard not to cry.  I feel like it's all my fault.

My wife's words of admonition flood back.
"If you didn't stonewall me none of this would have happened!"
"You didn't hear me the entire time!  That's our biggest issue... you really believed that my tears are manipulation! I'm heartbroken you'd think so low of me"
I am so embarrassed by what happens next, but i want to give a complete picture because I'm starting to think she's right based on what happens next.
One of my trip friends texted me "are you okay?"
That set me off.
I text my (now canceled trip) friends to delete my number.  I log out of Messenger but leave a cryptic message in Latin that "the punishment will fit the crime."  I delete my Instagram account, and send another text to my friend saying "do not look for me, do not call, I am not worth your time" and I turn off my phone.
I don't want anyone reaching out to me.  I feel like a monster.  Who would abandon their kids when they're sick?  What kind of monster would fixate on some stupid trip?

When I'm done cleaning my wife comes up to the office where I'm trying to work.
"What's going on?"
We eventually start talking and she "comes clean" while I'm shaking and holding back tears.
"You know this isn't all your fault... I mean most of it is and I've just been reacting to your immaturity but... well let's say it 70% your fault."
I can't breathe.
"I think the kids are fine... you can probably still go..."
"... I ready canceled it..."
"Oh, I didn't know that, I never told you to fully cancel"
I'm going to vomit... she's being so sweet and kinder than she's been in weeks... since the day I booked my flight.
"Your trip isn't canceled. It's just postponed.  I don't know why you're making such a big deal about this. Figure out another time in like a month okay?"
I can't speak. I'm visibly shaking.
"If you would have just listened to me this wouldn't have happened.  I told you from the start that this was never about you going - it's about how you handled it.  You just expected me to take care of everything without a plan.  You became this entitled white alpha male... that's who you've been lately, even before you booked the trip.  You used to love me and understand my anxiety.  I don't know what happened but I want that husband back... can you come back to me?  With the trip a few weeks out we can better plan it together."

Am I crazy?  Why was I shaking? Why did I shut everyone away and act out like that?  What the hell is wrong with me.  I feel like I'm the one who's splitting between two realities... one where she has BPD and one where I do.

I called her Aunt and my friend I texted.  They're worried.  My friend wanted to send someone out for a well check.  I'd calmed down by the time I called the Aunt.  She gave me the number for the domestic abuse line.  She suggested they'd help me figure out if I'm being abused... she thinks I am.  I tried to explain to them how my wife laid it out and that it made sense to me.  How nice it was for her to be affectionate.

BTW when i told the kids I wasn't going neither seemed to care.

I was supposed to leave on my flight today.
Just got a pop up on my phone suggesting what time I should leave for the airport.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2021, 06:40:38 AM by Guts42 » Logged
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« Reply #160 on: June 24, 2021, 07:17:56 AM »

Guts - I have seen this before. I have seen my father break down like this.

I totally understand how it happens. I have said "no" to my BPD mother over something and she is relentless. She does not stop until she gets what she wants. And her endurance can wear someone out emotionally. I also used to give in because I just could not take it but learned to do it.

I also realized that, as hard as it is for me to not give in to her demands, I don't live with her. My father did and it was the kind of thing you described 24/7.

The aunt gets it. It is abuse. It's actually human emotional torture.

I am not accusing your wife of deliberately torturing you. It's her own response to her increasing anxiety. It's like she's emotionally drowning and if you ever took water lifesaving classes you learned that a drowning person will grab on to you in their desperation and take you down with them.  The drowning person isn't deliberately trying to hurt anyone, they are acting out of their fears. So the class teaches you how to help them without endangering yourself in the process.

Once your wife got what she wanted, the anxiety was relieved and so her behavior is different.

The "you are heartless to leave a sick person" one is one tactic, and a hard one because one just doesn't know if someone is sick or not. But get real, kids get colds, they get viruses all the time and that isn't something one adult can't manage. Parents have jobs. What would happen if both parents had to stay home every time their child got a kiddy virus? Yes, there is the added concern about Covid, but with negative tests, that isn't the case.

But this is logic and logic isn't at play here. It's emotions on your wife's part and yours- and she uped the ante enough to break you down. This pattern happened so much between my parents that my father's immediate response was to do what she wanted just to avoid this.

Your hook here is the kids. They didn't choose this situation. You need to do what is necessary to protect them, but also you need to take steps to stop this pattern or it will probably continue as long as you don't. I think this will take some counseling for you on your part. Not marital counseling- for you, to be able to make some changes in this dynamic.

You need your friends. Call them, apologize for the messages. They probably see more than you know. You may not want to reveal all the details of your marriage, but don't isolate yourself from others. Let them be a support to you, and perhaps you can get together with them at another time.


« Last Edit: June 24, 2021, 07:28:08 AM by Notwendy » Logged
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« Reply #161 on: June 24, 2021, 07:39:49 AM »

Guts, I have been following your story closely and I hope you can feel my support from here. Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

You’re dealing with a lot and the last few weeks, it’s like you’ve been in an emotional pressure cooker. It’s not the least surprising that you would break down under those circumstances.

I’ve had so much less to deal with than you have (no kids of my own, no parent with BPD) yet, lately, I have sometimes felt like I’m going to lose my mind. That “maybe I’m crazy. Maybe uPBDH is right.”

I have missed family gatherings or avoided doing things important to me just to avoid H’s inevitable reaction, knowing it would end up being weapon used.

There is so much manipulation in what you’ve described.

I will reiterate what Notwendy said: please keep up your connections in whatever way you can. You have people who care about you. Let them. Believe me, you need them. I have distanced myself from people I love and who love me and it was not healthy. At all. I’m working now to restrengthen those ties.

I would also recommend listening to the aunt. It sounds like she is supportive and has done idea of what’s really going on. I honestly didn’t think I was a victim of domestic abuse until people here encouraged me to reach out for help. It was horrifying and embarrassing and very “how did I get here?” but also so enlightening and helpful. Once I could see things more clearly, it was easier to hold my center (though I still struggle with this).

We have some good resources on this site. If you haven’t already, look at the Library: Tools and skills workshops section. SOOOOO much good info there. Including this thread that deals specifically for men and DV:
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=87480.0

Please keep reading and posting, Guts. You’re not alone. We’re here for you.
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« Reply #162 on: June 24, 2021, 07:46:26 AM »


Is there anyway to adjust dates of trip and leave today/tomorrow?

One thing you now know is that "time" for her to process is NOT on your side.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Best,

FF
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« Reply #163 on: June 24, 2021, 08:38:38 AM »

Am I crazy?  Why was I shaking? Why did I shut everyone away and act out like that?  What the hell is wrong with me.  I feel like I'm the one who's splitting between two realities... one where she has BPD and one where I do.

Not sure if this helps, but I read recently that people in relationships with a pwBPD often take on some of the characteristics themselves over time due to the emotional toll.

This happened to me yesterday when I was accused of doing the exact opposite of what I had done.  I snapped, and told her the conversation was over and started to leave.  She actually became the reasonable one and asked why we couldn't have a conversation where we thought different things had happened (something I've asked her a million times, Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)).  The difference is that I apologized, explained why I was so emotional (she had asked for a divorce, again, that morning) and was able to continue with a rational conversation and I worked on my SET and not JADE'ing.

What I'm trying to do to keep grounded since then is to focus on the stuff she also said that I knew was a sign of her BPD.  I've historically ignored the bad and focused only on the good.  In your case, do you find yourself focusing on the affection and her admitting to her anxiety instead of the faked "temperatures" and literally using your children to enforce her will?   That's probably how I would have handled it... trained into my brain since birth by a mentally ill mother.

This week I've attended my first virtual Co-Dependents Anonymous meeting (coda.org).  Unsure if it will help me, will discuss it with my therapist tonight... but you may want to read through the site and see if it could be a good source of support for you.
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« Reply #164 on: June 24, 2021, 09:52:45 AM »

It does help... and I think I remember reading something like that in the 'Eggshells' book.  It also explains (not excuses) some of my behavior as a child since my mother was a strong candidate for BPD.

I actually called the national abuse hotline and went over just the issues since the trip.  It was a remarkable call and hearing someone label this as "abuse" was sobering.  She said that regardless of anxiety, BPD, adhd, or pmdd that there's no excuse for treating someone like this.  The agent on the phone was great and very frank... she made a lot of good points and suggested I reach out to a local support group.

I'm going over to the Aunt's a little later under the premise of returning a shovel and borrowing a book.  From there I'll probably call the local resource and consider planning my trip.

I did some damage control with my friends.  They've actually been aware of my BPD suspicions for almost as long as I have.  In fact I started reaching out to people again after I read Eggshells and realized how isolated I've become.  I didn't intend on letting them in on this but I slipped a quote from Eggshells into a conversation and it all spilled out from there.  That's when they suggested we book a trip to see each other.
More than anything they were extremely concerned and recognized immediately what was going on.

Today my wife is 'super mom' again.
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« Reply #165 on: June 24, 2021, 01:10:58 PM »

Today my wife is 'super mom' again.

Whatever emotional stress she felt over the idea of the trip - it's gone now, she feels fine.

This is also what I have seen as a "BPD apology" ( or lack of)

Dry erase method. "Look, I am good now, so nothing happened" and the expectation that this is agreed on.

I may sound cynical but this is a pattern that I see frequently.

The difference though in what I see and what potential there is for change is that- my father chose the path of appeasement, and so my mother didn't have the incentive to change her behavior, because it worked for her.

You are discovering this, and while it's impossible to know the outcome, or if there even is the possibility of a better outcome- you have access to information about how to make changes in your behavior in this dynamic. You don't have to make a decision on the marriage at the moment ( people do this at their own pace and decide how they wish) you are making good strides- keeping contact with your friends, talking to DV hotline for support, speaking to the aunt who may be of assistance to you.
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« Reply #166 on: June 24, 2021, 02:50:37 PM »


Could you make it a goal that you have a meal with this local aunt in the next week and perhaps go over what this aunt may or may not provide and what kind of notice she needs.

Also if she is ok with you making long term plans with her..that might not be revealed to your pwBPD until the day prior.

It would seem that your pwBPD can't handle thinking about these things for weeks on end...that may be the most important lesson you have learned.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #167 on: June 24, 2021, 02:57:25 PM »

"With the trip a few weeks out, we can better plan together."

Interesting.

You started this topic on June 2. That is three weeks in which she could have planned with you. And yet, that is not what she spent that time doing. Say you set up a trip today for 3-4 weeks from now....what do you assess would be different next time than what you just went through?

I would encourage you to go back and re-read this entire thread. There might be some valuable insights on your perspective from this end of the experience.
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« Reply #168 on: June 24, 2021, 07:21:16 PM »

We took the kids to the doctor who clocked their "fevers" at 97.8 and both had perfect pulse and 0² stats.  Negative for strep, covid tests pending.  The doctor didn't want to do a covid test but guess who pushed for it?

Magically after the doctor's the kids seem fine.  Not. A. Single. Cough.

That actually happened to me.  Here's my post:
Excerpt
Topic:  When do you take the threats seriously?
Date:  August 11, 2009, 12:18:51 AM
If I recall correctly, late one night my ex told me son had a 105 degree fever, called the urgent care stating he had a 103 degree fever, then 20 minutes later when she arrived with son they took his temperature and it was about 99 degrees.  {I had arrived and I confirmed with the staff that he was just fine.}

You can be sure she has probably taken a few facts, stretched them until they were virtually unrecognizable and then blamed you for it all.  It is called emotional blaming or "emotional "facts".

One of my trip friends texted me "are you okay?"
That set me off.
I text my (now canceled trip) friends to delete my number.  I log out of Messenger but leave a cryptic message in Latin that "the punishment will fit the crime."  I delete my Instagram account, and send another text to my friend saying "do not look for me, do not call, I am not worth your time" and I turn off my phone.
I don't want anyone reaching out to me.  I feel like a monster.  Who would abandon their kids when they're sick?  What kind of monster would fixate on some stupid trip?

"You know this isn't all your fault... I mean most of it is and I've just been reacting to your immaturity but... well let's say it 70% your fault."
I can't breathe.
"I think the kids are fine... you can probably still go..."
"... I ready canceled it..."
"Oh, I didn't know that, I never told you to fully cancel"
"Your trip isn't canceled. It's just postponed.  I don't know why you're making such a big deal about this. Figure out another time in like a month okay?"

Have you ever watched the 1944 movie Gaslight?  This clueless young woman is romanced by this man who she doesn't realize is a criminal, he adjusts the gas lights up and down and questions her sanity when she remarks the gas light did dim up and down.  He's got her to the point where she even doubts her own sanity.

Sound familiar?  You can't continue living like that.  You really are "reasonably normal".  It's her, not you.  You have to decide what to do about it because your family life is becoming dysfunctional and there's no indication here she'll change.
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« Reply #169 on: June 25, 2021, 05:04:19 AM »

IMHO, if you really want to take the trip, the main plan would be to arrange for child care that does not involve your wife. The next plan would be a contingency plan as to what to do when she acts up again. If you are out of town and she's having an emotional crisis, who can she lean on besides you?

You need to arrange for someone to do all the things you do when you are home. Do you cook the meals, clean? If so, there needs to be meals in the freezer and everything done before you leave.

Planning "with her" isn't going to stop what happened. If you read one of my earlier posts, you will see I said " her anxiety will increase as the trip gets closer- and so will her behaviors to stop the anxiety increase- as her goal will be to stop them- and her main way to do this is to stop you from going. So she can be all sweet and agreeable 3 weeks in advance, but feel differently 1 week in advance.

If you want this trip to happen, you need to think about how to do it if you were the sole person in charge of the house and kids. Leaving any aspect of this to your wife gives a part of the ability to take the trip to her- and that gives her some control over whether or not you go.

I don't suggest you don't tell her or the kids, that would be hurtful, but the approach is that " honey I have arranged everything" Kids will go to camp and then to aunt's house. there's meals in the freezer and you can have a break while I am gone" approach might work better. There may still be drama but her control over your trip will be less. 
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« Reply #170 on: June 25, 2021, 09:13:23 AM »

Maybe I'm just coming down from not going... but I don't think my wife would allow any of those options.  If I even suggest the kids staying somewhere else she gets very angry and says "no one can take care of them like me."

I'm going to plan the trip with the expectation it isn't going to happen.  If it does, great.  If it doesn't then I suspect I'll have enough evidence to have her removed.

Things escalated while I was at the Aunts for two hours.  Somehow my son's "fever" of 100.3 returned and his cough got worse.  I took the bait and headed home... he seemed fine but my wife was very nervous.  She then had me leave almost immediately to help a friend of hers nearby install a doorbell camera system.  It took about an hour total.  When I got back from that everyone was visibly anxious about bedtime.  My daughter was terrified that her brother was going to get really sick last night.  My son was almost in tears about his "croup" returning... they went to bed just fine...

130am rolls around and my son shuffles into the hall and can't speak.  His throat has swollen a bit (he can breathe fine) and it's hard for him to talk.  He is panicked.  My wife had previously agreed we'd use the rx steroid we have on hand (he used to get croup every 6 to 8 weeks but it's been gone for 18+ months).  However even after taking his temperature of 103 she goes for the homeopathic remedy and not even Tylenol.
After half an hour of him not getting better I suggest the Tylenol and rx steroid.  After half an hour of his fever not budging I glare at her and tell her were using Tylenol.
"I never said not to!"
He vomits twenty minutes later.  It's his dinner... that I wasn't home for.
After he vomits he seems better... his fever stays around 102 but his cough is bad.
Something seemed off to me about this.
I get fully dressed and say I'm taking him to urgent care.  My wife protests.  We instead call the after hours line.  They seemed confused as to why we didn't just go with the rx at the first sign since we have it and have been through this before.
We give him the steroid.  About twenty minutes later we give him children's motrin.
That comes up immediately, like it hit the bottom end of his esophagus and immediately returned.
I say that's it, I'm taking him.
"Well we should all go!  I'll wake his sister!"
"I don't know if that's needed..."
She darts into his room and she reports he even says he wants to go but wants his sister and mom to go.
She then says "wait!  We have Zofran!  His cough sounds better it's just the fever... if we get him to stop vomiting the motrin will work!  If it doesn't then we take him."
It works and his fever rapidly drops to 99 in the course of an hour.
By this point we're all up watching TV downstairs at 4am.  The kids think it's fun.

They're asleep upstairs right now.  I'm taking my son to his regular physician in a couple of hours.

A few things stand out here:
1.  Any illness seems to escalate when I'm not around
2.  My wife said, multiple times, with a voice that sounded scripted, "I'm just so glad you're home... it's like the universe was giving you every sign you shouldn't go because this was going to happen!"
3.  I suggested that I think what we're really dealing with here is severe allergies mixed with tiny virus but mostly extreme fear/anxiety making it much much worse.  To which she replies coldly "I told you they need a new therapist"

It just seems too convenient... but her timing was off... like her plan was a night late.
Maybe I'm just being paranoid. He really had a fever.  I took it myself a few times.  He hasn't had this (and I'm not convinced it's croup) in 18 months and suddenly he has it the same day I was supposed to get on a plane?

My therapist suggested I document everything and try to get somehow on record that my wife pushed for the covid test when the doctor said it wasn't needed.
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« Reply #171 on: June 25, 2021, 09:13:57 AM »

Maybe I'm just coming down from not going... but I don't think my wife would allow any of those options.  If I even suggest the kids staying somewhere else she gets very angry and says "no one can take care of them like me."

I'm going to plan the trip with the expectation it isn't going to happen.  If it does, great.  If it doesn't then I suspect I'll have enough evidence to move forward with a separation.

Things escalated while I was at the Aunts for two hours.  Somehow my son's "fever" of 100.3 returned and his cough got worse.  I took the bait and headed home... he seemed fine but my wife was very nervous.  She then had me leave almost immediately to help a friend of hers nearby install a doorbell camera system.  It took about an hour total.  When I got back from that everyone was visibly anxious about bedtime.  My daughter was terrified that her brother was going to get really sick last night.  My son was almost in tears about his "croup" returning... they went to bed just fine...

130am rolls around and my son shuffles into the hall and can't speak.  His throat has swollen a bit (he can breathe fine) and it's hard for him to talk.  He is panicked.  My wife had previously agreed we'd use the rx steroid we have on hand (he used to get croup every 6 to 8 weeks but it's been gone for 18+ months).  However even after taking his temperature of 103 she goes for the homeopathic remedy and not even Tylenol.
After half an hour of him not getting better I suggest the Tylenol and rx steroid.  After half an hour of his fever not budging I glare at her and tell her were using Tylenol.
"I never said not to!"
He vomits twenty minutes later.  It's his dinner... that I wasn't home for.
After he vomits he seems better... his fever stays around 102 but his cough is bad.
Something seemed off to me about this.
I get fully dressed and say I'm taking him to urgent care.  My wife protests.  We instead call the after hours line.  They seemed confused as to why we didn't just go with the rx at the first sign since we have it and have been through this before.
We give him the steroid.  About twenty minutes later we give him children's motrin.
That comes up immediately, like it hit the bottom end of his esophagus and immediately returned.
I say that's it, I'm taking him.
"Well we should all go!  I'll wake his sister!"
"I don't know if that's needed..."
She darts into his room and she reports he even says he wants to go but wants his sister and mom to go.
She then says "wait!  We have Zofran!  His cough sounds better it's just the fever... if we get him to stop vomiting the motrin will work!  If it doesn't then we take him."
It works and his fever rapidly drops to 99 in the course of an hour.
By this point we're all up watching TV downstairs at 4am.  The kids think it's fun.

They're asleep upstairs right now.  I'm taking my son to his regular physician in a couple of hours.

A few things stand out here:
1.  Any illness seems to escalate when I'm not around
2.  My wife said, multiple times, with a voice that sounded scripted, "I'm just so glad you're home... it's like the universe was giving you every sign you shouldn't go because this was going to happen!"
3.  I suggested that I think what we're really dealing with here is severe allergies mixed with tiny virus but mostly extreme fear/anxiety making it much much worse.  To which she replies coldly "I told you they need a new therapist"

It just seems too convenient... but her timing was off... like her plan was a night late.
Maybe I'm just being paranoid. He really had a fever.  I took it myself a few times.  He hasn't had this (and I'm not convinced it's croup) in 18 months and suddenly he has it the same day I was supposed to get on a plane?

My therapist suggested I document everything and try to get somehow on record that my wife pushed for the covid test when the doctor said it wasn't needed.
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« Reply #172 on: June 25, 2021, 11:19:26 AM »

Look up Munchausen's by Proxy.
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« Reply #173 on: June 25, 2021, 11:28:08 AM »

There are lots of inconsistencies.

On the one had I would give her a pass for pushing for covid testing...because I've done the same thing AND...confirmed our first case of covid in this manner.

Doctors were positive is was "just" a sinus infection for a 18 year old male, he even responded well to antibiotics.  I was like "we are here...please test anyway".  His positive test gave us a heads up and likely allowed us to stop further covid (we ended up with three cases..I think it could have been worse).

Consistency:  If she was "always" pressing for the most conservative treatment..I would give her a pass...but there seems to be this flopping back and forth between be conservative and..."let's wait"...even in the face of high temps and other things that you just don't "wait" for..

Please ask your pediatrician to do a full blood panel..I would express concerns there is a possibility of over or under medication....not sure what tests would be given for that..but basically...is there anything odd in the kids blood.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #174 on: June 25, 2021, 12:09:55 PM »

Did you take the temperature or did your wife? Did you see her take it?

I don't know how someone would fake a true fever, but it's possible to misreport a fever, or hold the thermometer in warm water if nobody is looking.

The part that doesn't add up to me-
She calls you at aunt's house to report the 100.3 fever- that might be true or not, but I am assuming she called to get you home. ( my mother would be anxious about a visit like this as she'd be concerned we were talking about her)

So you come home to check on your child, but she sends you away to do something (???? that is odd)

You come back and everyone is anxious- while this seems excessive, we've all gone though the Covid scares where everyone is anxious if someone has coughing, so perhaps that's explainable.

Your son wakes up with sore throat, cough, fever, throws up- at this point, he really is sick with some bug. That's hard to fake on your wife's part.

Here's where it gets strange:
She doesn't do the treatment you have worked out with your son's health care provider.
She doesn't want to have you take him to urgent care ( if she's worried this doesn't make sense)
The logical thing to do would be to have one parent take him to urgent care while the other parent stays at home and lets his sister sleep. Waking the sister up is adding drama.

I don't know how someone could create a true fever and cough in a child by giving them something, but maybe there's a way. I do think it's possible he had a bug and  she could have exaggerated the situation with the drama about it.
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« Reply #175 on: June 25, 2021, 12:22:09 PM »

I'm a bit concerned about the long term health of your children in this environment:

https://www.stress.org/family-stress-and-fevers-in-children

This seems like more than a coincidence.

Wishing you the best of luck, and praying for your family.
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« Reply #176 on: June 25, 2021, 05:03:37 PM »

Look up Munchausen's by Proxy.

Exactly what I was going to post.  Could be something he ate or something in the food he ate...  After all, you weren't there.

Things seem to be escalating?
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« Reply #177 on: June 25, 2021, 07:25:53 PM »

Yes.  Definitely escalating.

It took me a few times to let it ring long enough for someone to answer but I called a local resource hot line.

I'll be getting a call from a case manager early next week.

That was the hardest call I've ever made.

It also dawned on me that her whole argument for me staying while the kids were sick was that she's terrified to drive at night and that she didn't want to have to take both kids if something happened.  But then last night... it was we all go or no one and then she argued against going at all even though I'd be driving...
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« Reply #178 on: June 26, 2021, 07:57:54 AM »

I am beginning to see just how deep the manipulation goes.  I'm wondering if this is just BPD or something bigger?

My daughter had a two day dance convention.  My wife initially used my absence to avoid her going.  I think my daughter really wanted to go but my wife convinced her not to because I wasn't going to be home.  Then the director called and said that it's mandatory for team members but understood my daughter not wanting to do both days so she could just do one.

Come to think of it... the next day my announced that they were sick...

So we know I end up not going on my trip.
My wife takes my daughter to her the single day event (yesterday).  Im not allowed to take her... my wife's fear is that the director will see me and then essentially say "Great!  Since you're home are you doing day 2?"  Of course she has a blast.  So much so that my wife seems worried that she'll actually ask to do day 2.

My wife gets ahead of this by having a "family" talk with her about it.  I recorded it.  I don't know if it's my bias from recent events but it feels like manipulation.

She starts off by saying it's "totally up to you."
My daughter says she wants to go.  My wife then gives her ten minutes to think about it.  She returns and my wife says again that there's no wrong answer here.
"Okay, I really want to go"
"Okay... if you're sure... but once I send the text and sign you up that's it... there's no going back!  Okay I'm texting them right nowww.... stop me at anytime... okay I stopped- sheesh why are you gonna cry?"
This goes back n forth for quite a while.
When my daughter finally does say that she's worried she'll over do it (because of her lingering cough) and not be rested enough to have fun on Monday's dance camp my wife accepts the answer and does not do any of the "are you sure?" routine.

My daughter had a sleep walking episode last night.  In her half daze state she came to our room crying asking for my help saying "Dada I'm scared there's so much laundry please help me."  We got her to calm down and she came out of it.

She has these episodes when she's stressed.  She told my wife and me that she was really worried she's very sick.  My wife told her she isn't sick anymore and it's nothing to worry about.

Am I being paranoid?  Does that sound like manipulation or am I just overly sensitive right now?
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« Reply #179 on: June 26, 2021, 08:13:27 AM »

It is absolutely manipulation.

In addition, your wife is planting seeds of self-doubt in your daughter, such that your D won't trust her own judgement and inner voice, or even what her physical body is telling her (am I sick of not). This is a critical period for your daughter -- she needs to be able to live her own authentic life.

Right now, no one in your household is being allowed to live an authentic life.
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« Reply #180 on: June 26, 2021, 09:51:57 AM »

GaGrl... my wife recently pushed for a neuro evaluation on my D.  It came back with some minor diagnosis that supposedly affects her ability to understand and respond to social queues... I'm beginning to think that she just been conditioned to doubt herself so much she freezes and doesn't know what to do.
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« Reply #181 on: June 26, 2021, 12:11:40 PM »


Have you discussed this manipulation with the kids counselors?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #182 on: June 26, 2021, 12:17:06 PM »

GaGrl... my wife recently pushed for a neuro evaluation on my D.  It came back with some minor diagnosis that supposedly affects her ability to understand and respond to social queues... I'm beginning to think that she just been conditioned to doubt herself so much she freezes and doesn't know what to do.

That's a good insight. I agree that is probably what is happening. Your D has been given social cues by your wife for years, and she now has a different set of social cues coming from teachers, friends, dance instructors, etc. But if she knows her responses won't meet with her mother's approval, or will result in the type of manipulative conversations you describe, then R will question every interaction or request of decision she makes.

My H was married to his uBPD/NPD ex for many, many years. His daughter was shy and timid about decision-making, lacking in self-confidence.  In her teens, she shifted to a defiant attitude with her mother -- then the fireworks started. She is 40 years old now and has learned to have a workable relationship with her mother. Her mother has not changed in the least (if anything, she has deteriorated and become more paranoid) -- the only change came from my SD's ability to define and hold boundaries.
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« Reply #183 on: June 26, 2021, 02:12:42 PM »

Have you discussed this manipulation with the kids counselors?

Best,

FF

I was privy to a bit of information I don't think I should have been told but nonetheless...
Apparently my uBPD wife is known between a few therapists (mine, the kids', and perhaps one other) as an "emotional f@cking vampire."
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« Reply #184 on: June 26, 2021, 04:05:35 PM »

Guts, I am sorry you are dealing with this. From the mom perspective this doesn't make sense. Does your wife have any friends who are your kids' friends' moms? Because I did most of the child care and activities on my own when the kids were young. At something like a game or camp as you described, there would be other moms there and we'd hang out together. Yes, there were also some dads too so it's not making sense this "not allowing you to go".

Looks like your wife played the same thing as she did with you about the dance camp. "It's up to you but you better not go" And how does a kid come up with being concerned about "overdoing it" if she does dance camp a few days in a row? Kids that age are energizer bunnies. They don't stop. And if they do get tired, they sleep it off and are fine the next day. This did not come from her.

Sounds like your kids have some allergies and maybe exercise induced asthma? But this doesn't stop kids. It's treatable. They bring their inhaler with them to sports and dance events. Unless they are truly sick and need something more, they can do things other kids can do.

As to the evaluation. I think there might be some investment in there being "something wrong" with the kids for their anxiety because, that way, nobody would think it was her. My BPD mother has presented me as "the problem" between us, even convincing her relatives there is some kind of issue with me. She seemed quite pleased when I went to counseling, because that gave the premise it was me. However, the counselor knew the reason was the issues at home between my parents.

I am glad your kids are in therapy. Seems the therapists are "on to" your wife. If she gets that idea- she is likely to paint them black. Preserving the illusion that "mother is fine" was the #1 goal in our family. We did not dare insinuate she might be the reason for any issues. Therapy has failed with her because she convinces the therapists that she is a victim of her family members' issues.


It might help to not focus on the issue at the moment, but the patterns- the way your wife manipulates, and how she does it. In addition, your patterns in this- how you respond to your wife's behaviors can be revealing as then you can decide on your part in this.

I think it's also important to be aware of the effect of these manipulations on your children.
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« Reply #185 on: June 26, 2021, 05:05:54 PM »

It is absolutely manipulation.

In addition, your wife is planting seeds of self-doubt in your daughter, such that your D won't trust her own judgement and inner voice, or even what her physical body is telling her (am I sick of not). This is a critical period for your daughter -- she needs to be able to live her own authentic life.

Right now, no one in your household is being allowed to live an authentic life.

In case you missed my prior movie recommendation...
Have you ever watched the 1944 movie Gaslight?  This clueless young woman is romanced by this man who she doesn't realize is a criminal, he adjusts the gas lights up and down and questions her sanity when she remarks the gas light did dim up and down.  He's got her to the point where she even doubts her own sanity.

Sound familiar?  You can't continue living like that.  You really are "reasonably normal".  It's her, not you.  You have to decide what to do about it because your family life is becoming dysfunctional and there's no indication here she'll change.

The kid's T's have a big task ahead of them.  Are they making any suggestions?  This is why so many here, faced with a spouse who won't change poor behaviors or even ramps them up, end up divorcing.  In such cases that's the only way to get distance from the damaging dysfunction.
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« Reply #186 on: June 26, 2021, 05:33:56 PM »

ForeverDad, I'm hoping to carve out some time to watch it in pieces on my phone/computer over the next week!

And I feel like I've made my decision... just waiting for the ebook version of "Splitting" to come out on July 1st.
Thinking back, she's been playing this 'game' with me the entirety of our relationship.  My friends even had a running joke that my wife only asked for my opinion because she wanted another opportunity to tell me I'm wrong.

I should be getting a call from my case manager early this week to figure how to move forward.

In a blood curdling exchange she asked how my friends were doing at the cabin and wanted to make sure I wasn't having too much "FOMO."  Apparently that means "fear of missing out."  She said it slyly with a very thinly veiled smirk.

NotWendy - it's like that scene in "Labyrinth" were Jennifer Connelly sees the illusion of the wall in front of her.  A slight camera shift to the right and you can't see the illusion anymore.  I feel like all the years of manipulation are becoming very clear now and it's heartbreaking.  I thought that things had just escalated to 'abuse' just recently.  While there's some truth that she's been more confrontational as I've put up boundaries this is the way it's "always" been with her.

Playing an adult because you're scared of being alone is one thing... heck even using the kids to an extent is understandable (not okay but it makes sense from her perspective).  However between convincing the kids they're sick and then gaslighting my daughter into not doing something she wanted to do... that's unforgivable.  That's sick.

At this point, she's either totally unaware of what she's doing and needs serious inpatient care.
Or she's totally aware... I'm not sure which is worse.

Keeping this sort of public journal here as a record for me.  Apologies for rambling and generating a thread this long.  I didn't intend to I really thought this would blow over and I'd go on my trip.  I never imagined she'd go this far.
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« Reply #187 on: June 26, 2021, 07:22:42 PM »

Guts-  it’s a shock to see the manipulation. It’s very easy to slip into denial - especially when it’s a learned response from childhood. ( your family pattern growing up). It’s also hard when the “good “ side of them appears.

My own discovery was in increments. It was hard to realize just how far my own mother could go in her manipulations.

Self care is important. It’s good you are standing up for your kids.
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« Reply #188 on: June 26, 2021, 09:14:34 PM »

Guts, this isn't aimed specifically at you, more of a general question that pertains to your experience so I'm framing it as a question to you... if that makes sense.

On one hand, as you are writing the events of your life, you are constantly bullied into the most accommodating behaviors.  I can relate as I am easily led into accommodation.  Manipulation doesn't work that well on me, but if she asks (or demands) I will find a way to say yes.

On the other hand, you write about having "made the decision", that it is "only a matter of time".  Which implies that you plan to separate and/or divorce.

These two seem incompatible to me.  I would expect that once a person resolves to leave they would no longer be accommodating to the bullying... I'm hoping you and others can help me sort that out.

The reason I bring it up is that with my first wife (NPD not BPD) I was always resolved to leave when the time was right (After the holidays, after her birthday, after the Vikings win the super bowl, etc.).  Twenty-six years later the time was finally right... and I'm hoping you aren't in that same cycle I found myself in.

Best,
Ventak
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« Reply #189 on: June 26, 2021, 10:39:52 PM »

Hi Ventak,

I know, it seemed conflicting and to be fair when I started this thread I really was flip flopping.

It may not be the best mindset but I'm in data gathering mode, building my case while trying to stay out of the of incoming trains and minimize the damage where I can, especially for the kids.

Her rage and manipulation are inevitable.
After this episode with the children's health it's time.
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« Reply #190 on: June 26, 2021, 11:12:24 PM »

I agree... and I wish you luck.
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« Reply #191 on: June 27, 2021, 05:57:57 AM »

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843908/

Both kids had low grade fevers for about 24 hours... then my son had an acute panic attack about getting sicker and the got sick.

Just realized she makes them a homemade cough syrup.  She made the first batch while I was at the Aunt's.  She made another batch yesterday while I was home and both kids said this new one tasted different (worse)... they slept through the night just fine.
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« Reply #192 on: June 27, 2021, 06:51:28 AM »


What is in the homemade cough syrup?

I think you  should explicitly ask your doctor about the wisdom of creating remedies like this and only go with store bought cough syrups and other things.

 Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post)

Again...I think blood tests are in order...


Best,

FF

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« Reply #193 on: June 27, 2021, 07:29:23 AM »

I'd want to know what is in that home made cough syrup.

Recipes like only honey and lemon or other fruit juice are fine but I would want to know there isn't anything else in it -especially any medication as there is no dose control with home made syrup.

As to the wavering back and forth- both staying and leaving are not easy decisions. Each person makes their own choice in their own time. I do get what Ventak says- waiting for the right time- there may not be an easy time- I think it's more about making the decision and then following through with it.

Keep in mind that anything you work on yourself for- gaining better skills to manage drama- are going to benefit you whatever you decide. The two of you are still in a parenting relationship whether or not you remain married.

However, I would suggest looking into issues involving the children and their safety.
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« Reply #194 on: June 27, 2021, 07:53:56 AM »

Hi Guts42, I mainly lurk, but have been following your story from the beginning.  What I'm going to say does not negate the fact that I completely agree with the other posters that it is vitally important to find out what was in that cough syrup.  I did want to mention my experience growing up and getting sick often...  My dad developed a drinking problem when I was around 9* (he had no PD traits at all, "just" drinking).  He didn't drink all the time, but when he did, it was binging for 3-5 days at a time.  By the time I was 10-ish, I was so sensitive to everything going on in the house.  I could tell what was going on based on the cadence of the hum of my parents voices downstairs when I was in bed; the way my dad would walk down the stairs, etc.  Anyway, when I could tell things were going downhill, I would get sick.  High fever, sore throat, nausea.  Can't tell you how many times my mom had me at the doctors getting step tests (always negative).  I believe the anxiety from the fear of my dad's drinking, or the thought that he might start drinking, triggered a physical response and I got sick.  When I was 11, I missed 37 days of school due to illness (they only let me pass to the next grade because the good little perfectionist in me got straight As).  When I finally told my mom years later all the little things I would listen for and observe, she was shocked - I did it very quietly and kept it all to myself.  I don't remember how old you said your kids were, but I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility that they're a lot more in tune to what's going on.  Even more so, the extreme manipulation you describe could make their little bodies have a physical response to the anxiety they feel and not fully show.  Again - in NO WAY am I suggesting you don't get to the bottom of what is in that cough syrup.  I just wanted to add my experience in case it helps any.

*I do want to add that my dad got sober for good in my early teens. Still, when I look back I laugh at myself for wondering how I ended up with an H with BPD traits...  The seeds of my hyper-awareness of others feelings and trying to sooth them had been sowed when I was little.  I wish I had taken up my mom on her offers to send me to Al-Anon.  I'm so glad your kids are in therapy!
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« Reply #195 on: June 27, 2021, 01:13:47 PM »

Lemon juice
Olive oil
Honey
A few essential oils...

As is typical, she's not processing her own emotions so she's hounding me to sort them out for her.
"I just want to make sure you're not mad at me!"
"No, I'm just sad.  My friends are sending updates and pictures which is fun but it also kinda sucks."
"Yeah fair enough - I just want to make sure you don't blame me for this!"
"No... I don't know how you could've given the kids a fever"
"Well even if I could, I wouldn't make them sick!"
"I know you wouldn't, I'm just saying that on top of that, logically there's no way you're responsible for it"
"Okay, you know what?!  I'm just going to back off!!" (and she puts her hands up as her voice turns a bit shrill)
I shrug, "I think I'm allowed to be a little sad, I'm fine, just a little sad that's all"
"Well you're scaring me and I'm worried.  This is how YOU get before we fight and I'm worried we're going to fight.  I don't want to fight!!"
"Me neither- that would suck.  I don't think that's what's happening here."
"I'm just feeling insecure and scared and I want you to hold me."

... black belt level reversal there...
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« Reply #196 on: June 27, 2021, 01:45:28 PM »

It just occurred to me that the coincidental timing of your kids' illness with your planned departure may not be coincidental at all. And it may have been their mother who made them sick, but not in the way you're thinking.

If they're having a stress response, it makes perfect sense for them to get sick right when you were planning to leave. I agree with other posters who have commented that they may know more than they let on. They likely knew that dad going away might trigger dysregulation for mom, and they were stressed about it. In a way, they might have wanted to keep you home as well, so you can continue to manage mom's emotions so they didn't spill out on the entire family. I don't think this was deliberate or malicious on their part, just a trained response. It seems your whole family has been conditioned to revolve around mom's moods and anxieties.

I wonder if their therapist could get your kids to talk about what their emotions were like when you were on the verge of leaving.

I am confused about what happened with your daughter's dance weekend. I get mom canceling it initially, because mom has no faith in her ability to cope when you aren't around. But when you ended up staying home, I don't know why mom didn't let your daughter attend both days of camp. You could have driven her there, right? It seems malicious on mom's part to manipulate daughter out of the second day of camp, unless there's some other element to it that I am missing.
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« Reply #197 on: June 27, 2021, 01:45:36 PM »

I would be sure to check on those essential oils. Some people see them as safe, healthy substances but when used incorrectly or in small children, they can cause problems — like triggering asthma attacks.
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« Reply #198 on: June 27, 2021, 03:11:03 PM »


I don't think you should be dishonest with your wife about your feelings when she asks.

You are mad..right?  In addition to being sad? 

Lots going on in this thread.    I can't imagine that it is any good for you guys to keep giving "concoctions" to the kids...even if the "should" be safe.

Can you get your doctor to weigh in on this?

Best,

FF
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« Reply #199 on: June 28, 2021, 05:24:03 AM »

Sometimes the big blow ups serve as an emotional release for uncomfortable emotions. She may actually try to incite one "are you sure you aren't mad at me?" because if you said "yes" you know what happens next.

After a blow up, things seem better for her when the emotions are released, but you likely feel like cr*p for loosing control and she feels like a victim because you got angry at her.

Again I don't think it's harm she seeks but the emotion relief.

We call this in our co-dependent 12 step groups " an invitation to the crazy party" that we also are responsible for participating in.

You don't have to accept the invitation and you can keep your cool if you deal with your own feelings and let her deal with hers.

The acronym "HALT" tells us when not to engage in emotional discussions and to take on self care. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. You can add sad and upset to this. When you feel these feelings- it is time for you to back off and take care of you.

Phrases to say when "invited" like this are:

"I am not able to discuss this right now"
"I need to collect my thoughts."


The key is the "I" statement- do not use the word "you". The "I" is about owning your feelings. "You" is very triggering and will send you both off to argue.

You may have to repeat yourself several times and a good rule of thumb is to leave the room if you start feeling agitated.

This is not the expected pattern- the two of you are probably used to a big blow up and then a kiss and make up. This is one step to change that.

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« Reply #200 on: June 28, 2021, 07:49:20 AM »


Maybe some nuance here...

1.  Notwendy's point is critically important.  Collect yourself so that you are no part of crazy party..when expressing your emotions.  Your pwBPD may still try to have a party...but that's on her..not you.

2.  To my point of being honest about emotions, especially when asked.  If you are angry..it's important to say so..but not in an angry way.  Anger is another way of your emotions showing you something that is really important to you.

3.  My point about not letting her off the hook for YOUR emotions...(saying you  were "only sad"...and no anger) is perhaps part of you trying to manage her emotions by "being dishonest" about your feelings.  Circle back to point 1.  Timing does matter..but "hiding" her or "protecting" her from the natural consequences of her actions is likely not wise.


Best,

FF
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« Reply #201 on: June 28, 2021, 08:37:04 AM »

Yes, anger is nuanced.

First you must be honest with yourself- if you are angry, own that.

Don't say "you made me angry".


If you are angry in the moment, think of HALT. That is not the time to say anything. Keeping honesty in mind, don't deny your anger, but know that NOW is not the time to discuss it because you don't have a complete grip on yourself.

Anger is said to loosen our inhibitions and when we are angry we don't have good emotional control.

You deal with your anger. Take a walk, listen to music, calm down however you can.

Identify the feeling more clearly. Yes, you are angry but she's going to make the premise that it isn't her fault the kids got sick, then accuse you of being an ogre for blaming the kids as it's not their fault they got sick.

Consider these "I" statements:  "I am disappointed to not go on the trip. I am angry that it didn't work out" Don't use the word "you" or "the kids".

Expect her to dysregulate and go into victim mode. Be prepared to stay calm when this happens. Victim mode absolves her of any responsibility. Her main goal is to not have you blame her. Keep this in mind. Do not expect her to own any of her behavior or apologize. You need to stay calm while she gets upset and blames you. She may say anything in this moment, really hurtful things. You can not let them get to you. This is the invitation to crazy. When you don't join in, she is left with her own feelings. This is how she handles them- but if you don't react, they will be left in her realm.

You need to have calmed your own emotions down first before you consider this.

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« Reply #202 on: June 30, 2021, 03:42:19 PM »

This'll be my last post on this topic since I think it's run its course...

My uBPDw suggested I reschedule for a specific weekend.  Last night she asked how 'set in stone' those plans were.
She and her friends want to do a girls' weekend and it just so happens that the only weekend they can all do is... that weekend.
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« Reply #203 on: July 01, 2021, 06:22:18 AM »

I think it's clear what her intentions are ( for you to not go on the trip)

But you can't blame her of course, so she will find other ways to do this indirectly. ( kids, kids get sick, trip...)

I think you have seen this, and know how it goes. Your trip would need to be planned without relying on her as she can always come up with some reason for you not to go.


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« Reply #204 on: July 01, 2