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Author Topic: How to deal with BPD mom's verbal assualt on dad  (Read 205 times)

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What is your sexual orientation: Gay, lesb
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Relationship status: Live with partner
Posts: 10

« on: June 13, 2021, 01:28:05 PM »

Hi All - my folks have been together for decades; my dad just recently took steps to break the abuse and move away but they are still married/see each other.  One of the things I'm struggling with most is that my mom blames my dad's choice to leave her, on his having supposed mental health problems.  She's unrelenting in this perspective.  It's the only thing she'll talk about with me.  She really really really wants me to understand and believe her when she says my dad is "sick and trying to kill her," which is why he left her to go live separately and is finally now setting up boundaries around her abuse. 

I know intellectually it's a common part of abuse that the abuser turns it around and cries out "i'm the victim here" and blames the situation on the other person's mental health and spreads rumors about it.  Intellectually, I get that.

But, to spend any time with my mom means that I get the full force of her beliefs thrown at me and anything I do or say is insufficient to get her to stop this.   I've tried:
(1) boundary setting, including refusing to talk about dad.  That boundary gets rolled over because she's "worried about his health, how could she possibly focus on anything else when his brain is deteriorating and why am I not helping her make sure he goes to the doctor."
(2) refocusing on her - I've tried to ask her how she's feeling, what she wants to do, etc.  She immediately redirects the conversation back onto my dad and keeps blaming him for her really really depressed state.

She just turns every single conversation back to my dad, his failings, how he's trying to harm her, and why don't I believe her and do something to help.  I've engaged her on it to make sure that I take her cries of "he threatened me" seriously and she feels like I take that seriously and would protect her were she in danger.  But, I'm thinking that's now a mistake because I think she uses it to get me to listen more to her.

I get that externalizing blame is part of BPD and emotional abuse, but I just don't know what to do!! How do you show up for a parent that you love (and I do love her - she's done a lot right as a parent, too, and I want to show up) but where now I'm so unhappy after every interaction because of this massive dumping about my dad and his "health problems?" 

Thank you for your help.
Naughty Nibbler
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Sibling
Posts: 1727

« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2021, 03:30:04 PM »

Quote from: Koala323
She immediately redirects the conversation back onto my dad and keeps blaming him for her really really depressed state.

You can't expect your mom to comply with your boundaries.  You have to enforce them.  When she starts blaming your dad, you need to say something like:
"I love both you and dad.  I refuse to be put in the middle of what's going on between both of you.  I won't discuss this any further.  You need to take this to a couple's therapist and discuss things from both of your perspectives.    I'm not a therapist.  I'm going to get off the phone now (or go home now).  We can talk/visit on another day, but not about you and dad."

Expect her to keep trying to have the same conversation.  She will likely get angry with you.  You will need to enforce your boundary over and over again, before she even thinks about complying.

Someone has to be honest with her and about her problem behaviors.  Appeasing her for so many years, and sweeping her problem behaviors under the rug, has resulted in the behaviors you now see.  Your dad needs to be cautious.  Your mom's paranoia could lead to your mom making false accusations to the police, about your dad.

Some people can be very good at fooling therapists.  Consider the following:

1.  Contact her therapist and advise the therapist of the situation, your mom's history and her current paranoia. You could ask the therapist to recommend a couple's therapist.  Hopefully, the therapist will skillfully interact with your mom (based on what you tell her) and will refer your mom to a couple's counselor (in addition to her individual therapist). A skillful therapist should be able to handle this, without your mom knowing you called them.

2.  Suggest that your mom ask her therapist for a referral to a couple's counselor or family counseling.  If your mom & dad can proceed with a new counselor together, that would be good.  Perhaps, it would be beneficial for you to briefly join in.  Thinking what needs to happen is to have a family/couple's counselor who will start out with speaking to each person individually (to gain everyone's personal perspective), then proceed with joint sessions.

Your mom needs a dose of truth. You say your dad has finally set boundaries and is enforcing them.  Is your mom just NOT listening to what he has to say or is your dad NOT laying out the issues and reasons for his boundaries effectively? Have you ever told your mom that it takes two to have relationship problems and that she plays some part in that?

If you mom refuses to accept what you dad is telling her, maybe if he puts it in writing, it might sink in for your mom. (as long as it isn't an abusive rant, but something factual & honest)

Something in writing, could be something for your mom to take to her individual therapy.  If she can share it with her current therapist, there is a chance that her therapist will be able to see the main problem is your mom.  Your mom's objective in sharing, would be to show how crazy your dad is.  Hopefully something in writing from you dad could provide enlightenment for the therapist.

Your mom needs a major dose of truth.  If you dad isn't able to manage  the situation effectively, you may need to step in (unless there is some other family member suited for this).  How do you feel about contacting her therapist?

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Posts: 7596

« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2021, 07:29:52 AM »

I posted a reply on the other thread as well.

A boundary is not something we impose on the other person. It's our decision about how to respond when someone violates our boundary.

It's not "you will not talk about Dad". It's "when she talks about Dad, I will say/do...."

"Mom, I love you and understand ( validating her feelings) this is upsetting, but I don't want to talk about Dad".

You may need to repeat, repeat, repeat.

If no results then "Mom, I am feeling upset right now. It upsets me to hear about Dad, I need a moment to get myself together" and then you walk away, leave, go home.

Do you see where this only involves "I" statements. There's no "you need to stop talking about Dad". It's about your response to this boundary.

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