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Author Topic: You can go but you better not!  (Read 1975 times)
olafinski

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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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WalkingonEggshel

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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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Notwendy
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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.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 06:33:04 AM by Notwendy » Logged
Guts42
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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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formflier
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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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formflier
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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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Guts42
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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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Ozzie101
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Posts: 1826



« 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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worriedStepmom
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner’s ex
Posts: 1141


« 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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