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Author Topic: How to mop up this mess?  (Read 458 times)
Couper
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« on: August 17, 2021, 08:44:47 AM »

Curious about what the more experienced have to say.  It's hard to process these things in the heat of the moment, particularly when with a mentally healthy person any resolution would have been reflexive.  Bear with me....

In the basement (finished basement) laundry room, about once a year the drain gets slow and needs some cleaner that has to sit a few hours.  Yesterday my uBPDw told me she was going out long enough for me to do it.

This morning, I'm using the bathroom down there and hear her come down followed by a lot of angry cursing.  When I come out I find the laundry room floor is totally covered in water and she's mopping it into a bucket.  I forgot to hang the washing machine drain pipe back in after dumping the cleaner the day before.  Totally my fault.

She is due to take our daughter to a dentist appointment within minutes and I told her calmly:

Me: My mistake, I'll mop this up so you can get going.

uBPDw: What about the shop vac?

Me: I don't have the parts to convert it to water.  I'll mop this up so you can get going.

uBPDw: You can't use that other mop you want to use (I said nothing about another mop nor did I have any intention of using one other than what she was holding), it hits the ceiling, it doesn't work right anyway.

Me: Okay.  I'll mop this up so you can get going.  You're short on time.

uBPDw:  (more of something about some other mop I said nothing about and my blood pressure is rising in proportion to keeping a cool front).

Me: Okay, I'll leave you to it. 

15 minutes later she's loading up the car.  I said goodbye to my daughter in the car and some encouraging words before going to her dentist appointment, uBPDw says nothing.  I go downstairs and she's hardly made a dent in it.  I started to attack cleaning it up, but no.  I offered more than once, she refused.  She could have been an adult and acted like an "us" for once instead of a "victim-her against the world" and for a few different reasons, I left it be. 

I encounter my son, ask if he had any school assignments to work on, and he tells me he was told to mop up the water.  I calmly told him to do it because it's what his mother told him, but I wanted him to know that it was my mess, that I offered to clean up my mess, and she refused, but to come get me when he needed help dumping the bucket, etc.  I'll go help him with more but I can't take the job away from him because then it will be seen as me undermining her to him.

I'm so exhausted.  There has never been any "us", never ever since "I do".  It's just water, I accepted responsibility and offered to fix my mistake.  If she had been the one to leave out the tube, the whole thing would have been even worse, so I guess that's a silver lining if you can even call it that. 

In the past any instance of accepting responsibility for my mistakes and fixing them is perceived as me trying to show her up (me being cast with ill-intent).  When the tables are turned, she will never accept responsibility.  Same old story, preaching to the choir.  It living in a world of what's wrong is right and what's right is wrong.
   
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2021, 09:42:23 AM »

Right at the moment I finish placing fans and get air conditioned air flow working to speed things along, she returns and is like nothing ever happened.  Must be nice....

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kells76
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2021, 02:33:02 PM »

First of all:

Excerpt
It's hard to process these things in the heat of the moment

Agreed, and I've been there. So take any thoughts here as just "how to possibly move forward" or "what to maybe tweak in the future"... as fortunately (unfortunately?) you'll probably have more "opportunities" to try new approaches to minimizing conflict.

Excerpt
When I come out I find the laundry room floor is totally covered in water and she's mopping it into a bucket.

OK, here we go.

Excerpt
She is due to take our daughter to a dentist appointment within minutes and I told her calmly:

Me: My mistake, I'll mop this up so you can get going.

Couple of things I notice... I wonder if things might go differently if you evinced "contrition" versus "calm"? Not sure if she's a pwBPD who does better when other people seem to "match" her feelings. Some do, some don't. Would be interesting if she felt "understood" if you started with "Oh my gosh, babe, I am so sorry..." and had some genuine body language to match. Not overdoing it, but she's obviously upset (angry cursing) so perhaps some "intensity mirroring" could change things -- OK, yeah, she's at an 8 or 9, so you don't have to go there, but maybe a 5-6 versus the "calm" 2-3.

Also... wondering if starting with gratitude towards her would change anything:

 "Oh my gosh, babe, I am so sorry... thank you for starting to clean up my mess... I will totally finish it while you take D to dentist..." (again, in a way that sounds like you). I have an inkling that she may have felt "Ugh, there goes Couper again, I'm working right in front of him and he doesn't even say thank you... blah blah blah". So, consider if some kind of recognition for what she's doing would defuse conflict.

Excerpt
uBPDw: What about the shop vac?

Me: I don't have the parts to convert it to water.  I'll mop this up so you can get going.

Next couple of things I notice. The idea of "shop vac" could certainly be genuine. Maybe she is thinking it is a faster way or whatnot. When she heard "I don't have the parts" I almost guarantee you that what she heard is "CouperWife is stupid and doesn't know anything". She probably felt criticized and perhaps again unappreciated. "There I go, just trying to help, and Couper just keeps criticizing me... why do I even do anything for him... blah blah blah".

Same with when she heard "I'll mop this up" -- again, I almost 100% guarantee you that the way it felt to her was "I just can't do anything right... he's always criticizing me... he won't let me do it my way".

I say all this seeing and knowing that rationally, yes, it doesn't make sense, and she does have something she needs to leave and do, but my radar is telling me that there is a LOT going on on the emotional level here. You're right, with a mentally in-balance person, this whole interaction wouldn't necessarily have gone this way. But this whole interaction is telling me -- it's about how she feels about her worth, and how she feels about how you see her.

Back to the shop vac -- I wonder if a diversion at that point could have changed things. I'm thinking that she says "what about the shop vac", and you take 2 seconds to think in your head only "not sure if I have the parts", but you don't say it. You say:

"Good idea babe, I'll go look for the water parts so I can finish up while you do the dentist trip. thanks again" (again... whatever is genuine... sounds like you...)

This buys you time to "take over the job" while she leaves, without shooting down her idea. If she comes back and maybe she sees you with the mop and not the vac, you could say: "Oh BTW babe, I looked for the parts and we didn't have them... bummer... glad mopping is done... how'd the dentist go?"

If she hears "we don't have the parts for water"... again... she hears... "CouperWife's idea is dumb... I feel shamed... I want to feel competent..." even though you are just stating a fact.

There are two levels going on here. You are analytically problem solving. But the whole situation for her is operating on an emotional level -- is she worthy? Is she valuable? Is she smart? Is she OK? Will she be shamed?

I'm not saying to "fake" pump her up with "Oh yeah babe, all your ideas are the best, we'll totally do whatever you suggest". It's more subtle, it's finding ways, as we say, not to invalidate. Find ways to see something you truly agree with in her suggestion, and practice a mindset of approaching these situations (whenever possible -- I get it isn't always possible) less from a "let's analyze the most efficient way to fix this problem" and more from a "find defusing validation targets" perspective.

Excerpt
uBPDw: You can't use that other mop you want to use (I said nothing about another mop nor did I have any intention of using one other than what she was holding), it hits the ceiling, it doesn't work right anyway.

So she is starting to "pass the reins to you" here maybe? I'm again wondering if some kind of genuine gratitude could calm things down:

"Good idea babe, I won't use that mop". Which is true -- you weren't going to use it. Genuine validation/gratitude comes across as "real" when there is some aspect you can grab hold of that you truly agree with. It's true that using a mop that hits the ceiling would be a bad idea. So, it's true that it would be a good idea to use the short mop. It's also true you never intended to use the tall mop. So you will have the emotional genuineness behind your statement. pwBPD are really sensitive to whether you sound "fake" or "real" emotionally, so I'd never recommend saying something you can't truly mean. So sometimes you have to get creative with your statements.

Excerpt
Me: Okay.  I'll mop this up so you can get going.  You're short on time.

uBPDw:  (more of something about some other mop I said nothing about and my blood pressure is rising in proportion to keeping a cool front).

Me: Okay, I'll leave you to it.

Sometimes statements that start with "You...", even if true, can escalate versus defuse situations that are already tense. So, you could consider leaving out "you're short on time" next time. Again, even though it's true, it both starts with "You" which can induce JADE-ing, and it emphasizes the stressful nature of the situation.

...

Hope that's helpful food for thought...

kells76
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2021, 09:03:33 PM »

Lots of food -- much to digest!  Thank you for the time and effort you put into this.  

All very interesting angles.  I'll try where I can.  My weakness is I am not an actor.  I feel like for some people this stuff is a hobby.  For me it's a way to survive until the next episode.  

I didn't sense the shop vac thing wasn't genuine.  It would have pulled it up faster, I just didn't have the parts.  You are right though, "stupid" is probably exactly what she heard.  In past instances she would come at me with stuff that falls into the category of "feelings don't equal facts".  This is her internal self-loathing thing.  No doubt about that.  Very good on you to pick up on it.

I also wonder if another angle to this is her never-ending axe to grind.  She painted me black from day-one, so anything where she can fall on the sword, she uses evil-me as justification for her behavior.  Just a thought.  I think she justified this line of thinking in one of the pieces of "hate mail" she gave me several years back.

The more I learn about how I have to rewire my own brain to accommodate this insufferable behavior, the more determined I am to formulate an exit plan.  I don't like having to be different things to different people and she's the only person in my life where being Regular Cooper is not acceptable.  I don't want to spend my life being a stage actor in the theater of her mind.

Until then, I'll try to utilize your suggestions.  It's obvious that you're more well-practiced than me.  
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2021, 10:01:24 PM »

Sorry to hear you're dealing with this situation now, too.  It can seem like a can't-win.  I feel your pain.

Kells76's points gave me a lot to think about for our situations.  It's very enlightening for me, as it doesn't cross my mind that situations would be perceived in such an extremely different way.  As I'm reading through your dialogue, I'm thinking every response you have seems perfectly reasonable and appropriate.  To know that there's an alternate universe where its not is pretty uncomfortable for me, too. 

I share your same angst.  Although I recognize these tips are helpful at dealing with the situations we're in, the bottom line is that is not who I naturally am.  Behaving in ways I naturally am seems to not be problematic with the majority of people I encounter in my professional and personal life.  To feel like you have to be someone you're not simply to appease a person you're so tightly intertwined with is soul-crushing for me.  Sounds like it's a stuggle for you as well.  So I totally empathize. 

At some points I also feel like the efforts to diffuse a situation are simply putting your finger in a hole in a dam that's gonna blow anyway.  The inner rage is built up, much like the tension of tectonic plates.  It's gonna get released at some point.  The question is what is going to be the trigger.  Avoiding the potential trigger in this moment feels like a relief.  But then you realize, oh crap, it's just going to be something else I can't predict.  That's how I often feel at least. 

Not only is it a lot of pressure to feel like you need to constantly act like someone other than your normal self, but even if you did there are other triggers out of your control.  My kids can't practice these techniques to sooth her.  Her family won't.  Her co-workers won't.  Someone or something is going to trigger her when it's ready to come out. Maybe my perception on that is wrong, though, so I'd be curious if folks in the know disagree.

I think it's worth trying some of these techniques and I'll try to practice myself.  Maybe just some additional "down time" between episodes is worth it for a while.  It's a hard place to be in.

I try to remind myself that it's true that it's unfair to be asked to behave in ways that aren't who I simply am.  But it's also true that like it or not, this is how my uBPD wife simply is, too.  And from her perspective, I'm asking her to be something different than what she naturally is.  While I'm biased about which one I think "should" adjust more, this is still going 2 directions.  And it certainly sets up for an uncomfortable conflict where at least 1 party is going to have to give for things to be better.  Game theory doesn't leave a lot of great options for these situations, does it?
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2021, 10:00:09 PM »

I try to remind myself that it's true that it's unfair to be asked to behave in ways that aren't who I simply am.  But it's also true that like it or not, this is how my uBPD wife simply is, too.  And from her perspective, I'm asking her to be something different than what she naturally is.  While I'm biased about which one I think "should" adjust more, this is still going 2 directions.  And it certainly sets up for an uncomfortable conflict where at least 1 party is going to have to give for things to be better.  Game theory doesn't leave a lot of great options for these situations, does it?

This, and the rest of your post, deserves a more thoughtful reply but I should be in bed already for the two week road trip that starts early tomorrow.  There is a lot to ponder with what Kells shared, as well.

What you mentioned here has nagged at me, too.  My thinking is this falls into the "unequally yoked" category.  Another way to look at it is if you could wave a magic wand and be paired-up with a mentally healthy person, you stand a lot better chance of having a happy marriage.  However, so far as I know, you cannot pair-up two BPD's and expect bliss.  Maybe in a mathematical sense: a negative plus a negative equals a negative -- or two wrongs don't make a right.

Messy thought because I'm rushed, but wanted to leave that for you to consider before I skip town.  All the best to you and to everyone here.  It is such a relief to have a place to finally talk about these things and my gratitude for those that contribute their time to help those of us on the bottom rung of the ladder muddle through it cannot be measured. 

     
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2021, 11:19:53 PM »

Excerpt
Another way to look at it is if you could wave a magic wand and be paired-up with a mentally healthy person, you stand a lot better chance of having a happy marriage.

you have said, if not in these exact words, that you are in a loveless marriage; that you are checked out.

if that is the case (is it?), you do not stand a chance at having a happy marriage. there is no hope of improvement.

the tools (on this board) are basic relationship skills. on a personal note, they opened my eyes that i had a deficit in that area, and it came as a surprise. the difficult thing, i think, is that a lot of us do have something of a deficit. if you find yourself in a dysfunctional relationship for an extended period of time, its difficult not to.

the hope is that for those of us who have that deficit, recognizing it, and changing gears, with the help of those tools, can improve our relationship, and indeed, that our partners will follow our lead. but that takes a lot of work, and even then, its not a guarantee.

the thing is, if youre not interested in doing that, then "how to do the bare minimum in order to get along while we divorce" is a far greater, more practical use of your effort.

my sense is that it is more complicated than that for you. i suspect (correct me if im wrong) that you are somewhere between "im done yesterday" and "if only she would change". a lot of people arrive here somewhere between those two mindsets. a lot of them stay in that mindset for years on end.
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2021, 09:54:42 AM »

There are some very helpful comments on this thread.  I like the idea of "intensity mirroring" by Kells.  I actually have heard that before, but had forgotten about it, and I need to remember to use it more.  There's SOOO much to "remember" about dealing with BPD.  It's like a golf swing, or like cooking in the kitchen.  There are a million tips that may or may not work - a million tools in the toolbox.  And some of them actually do work!

I also totally understand others on this thread who feel like it's a lot of work.  This is walking on eggshells.  I have to stop and think about what my intensity level should be in these situations, before I engage?  Is my natural intensity too high or too low?  Will it cause a blow up?  It's exhausting.

I think the goal is to internalize as many of these tools as possible, so they are quick and natural, and don't require too much time and thought on our part.  And if that's not enough to bring the relationship to an acceptable level of stability, we need to be honest with ourselves about how much time and effort we are willing to put into our side of the relationship.
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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2021, 11:28:29 AM »

I don’t think of myself as an *actor*, rather more like a *spy*. Though I’m not in physical danger, my emotional safety is at risk and I’ll be damned if I let someone else upset my equanimity. That is how I can edit my *natural* responses and instead respond in a strategic way, and still be true to myself.

After a while, the tools (at the top of this page) become second nature. I’m not fluent with all of them, but I utilize a number of them that work well and my relationship has changed immeasurably for the better.
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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2021, 01:03:55 PM »

My apologies for dropping this discussion.  Went out of town for two weeks and came back to screwed-up internet, which is still screwed-up and awaiting new hardware.  It barely stays connected.


you have said, if not in these exact words, that you are in a loveless marriage; that you are checked out.
if that is the case (is it?), you do not stand a chance at having a happy marriage. there is no hope of improvement.

Yes.



the tools (on this board) are basic relationship skills. on a personal note, they opened my eyes that i had a deficit in that area, and it came as a surprise. the difficult thing, i think, is that a lot of us do have something of a deficit. if you find yourself in a dysfunctional relationship for an extended period of time, its difficult not to.

the hope is that for those of us who have that deficit, recognizing it, and changing gears, with the help of those tools, can improve our relationship, and indeed, that our partners will follow our lead. but that takes a lot of work, and even then, its not a guarantee.

the thing is, if youre not interested in doing that, then "how to do the bare minimum in order to get along while we divorce" is a far greater, more practical use of your effort.

I do not disagree with any of this.  I asked the question so that I could learn what my options are.  While I am stuck here in purgatory I wanted to find ways to deal with the issues with which I'm confronted.  There seems to be a gap on this board.  If I had asked the question in "detaching" I would probably have been told that is not the place for it.  When somebody like me is stuck where I am but I'm not living under the illusion that I can totally fix things, it seems like an all-or-nothing take on what we should be doing.
 

my sense is that it is more complicated than that for you. i suspect (correct me if im wrong) that you are somewhere between "im done yesterday" and "if only she would change". a lot of people arrive here somewhere between those two mindsets. a lot of them stay in that mindset for years on end.

You are wrong.  I am under no illusion that she will change.  I just wanted to see what ways there were to squelch situations like I laid out in the original post in my thread while I am stuck living under the same roof with her.

Since having returned from this trip she has rolled more grenades into the room that I can keep up with.  This thread is probably not the place to discuss any of that.  I'm exhausted and if she left a note on her pillow tomorrow morning saying she has hopped a one-way flight to Siberia, I would feel like I won the lottery.
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2021, 01:45:27 PM »

So you’re not under the illusion that she will change, and you are looking for ways to avoid conflict or circumvent negative impacts upon you when she lobs more grenades your direction?

You don’t see yourself as an actor and the idea of play acting or researching BPD as a hobby isn’t within your scope. You just want to survive the recurring episodes, with the idea of eventually thriving?

If we look at your relationship from a meta view, what would you consider the top three issues that are troubling you?

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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2021, 03:34:25 PM »

So you’re not under the illusion that she will change, and you are looking for ways to avoid conflict or circumvent negative impacts upon you when she lobs more grenades your direction?

Correct.  Ways to diffuse situations "in the moment" that crop up out of the blue and clobber me in the head, as with my original post in this thread.


You don’t see yourself as an actor and the idea of play acting or researching BPD as a hobby isn’t within your scope. You just want to survive the recurring episodes, with the idea of eventually thriving?

I'm willing to do some homework and I'm willing to study, but no, I'm not an actor.  I'll try things where I can.  Minimize the impact of recurring episodes -- yes.  However, given my position on the issue and the level of her dysfunction, I don't ever see it coming out to thriving.  Maybe analogized another way -- whereas the incident at the start of this thread  results in 140 / 90 blood pressure, learn how to deescalate it to a 130 / 80 situation.  Still not perfect, but not off the charts. 

(I'd like to add that I hope my actor comment was not taken the wrong way.  I believe the context of our situations is different in that I'm living 24/ 7 with a  uBPD spouse and your issues are with someone outside the home?  If so, I can see that as more of a spy-type situation.  When these instances erupt, perhaps you have a spouse in which you can confide.  I do not have that and then I have to lie in bed next to this person that just spent the day trying to scramble my brain.)

 
If we look at your relationship from a meta view, what would you consider the top three issues that are troubling you?

1. First and foremost, that there is no collaborative anything where our kids are concerned.  I see my kids suffering in their schoolwork and she's the biggest roadblock to getting them help.  My kids haven't been to a doctor for a check-up in so long because she has all these whacked-out views about medicine and every time I try to approach getting them established at a pediatrician, she goes off the rails.  Stuff like that.  When we got married I incorrectly believed that WE were going to be raising our kids -- TOGETHER.  There is no having any rational discussion with her about things that a mentally healthy parent would do for their kids without hesitation. 

2. The never-ending wholesale destruction of my reputation to the outside world.  I'm realizing that being allowed my dignity is probably a pipe dream.  It is getting to the point that there is nobody within our local circle, and I think most anyone on her side, that she doesn't have believing I'm the disordered one and she's the poor innocent victim (I wish I could stick a Go-Pro on her head and broadcast her actions to the outside universe!).  It is getting very hard for me to stay silent about this (i.e.: not defend myself) but scarcely anyone of my side has a clue what goes on here and I know if I try to defend myself to people she has corrupted she will go "see see!".  This has been going on in dribs and drabs for over ten years, but within the last year she has become engaged in a very, eh, how do we say, "activist church" that attracts gullible types and she is manipulating these people to circle the wagons around her.  These are the types that believe everything they are told without skepticism.  It's getting to where there is nowhere I can go with her without people looking cross-eyed at me.

3.  The third issue is the "great unknown" on a number of topics.  That if I finally get the ball rolling on a split, an inevitable result will be that I will not be there nearly as much to act as a buffer for my kids.  I feel like if I divorce I'm telling my kids, "good luck, let me know next visit how you make out alone with her".  That she is not going to get help for the actual root cause of all of this and this mental decline is going to continue to progress and what does that look like in another decade?  I suppose a lot of the usual stuff that many that come here have weighing them down.  If there were not kids involved, I would just pay the tariff and be gone. 
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2021, 04:31:18 PM »

I, too, was in a dysfunctional relationship with my husband, though not nearly so extreme as the relationship I was in with my ex husband, which involved abuse, infidelity, drug abuse, and criminality.

That said, I’ve been able to make great strides towards having a more healthy relationship with a BPD spouse. And perhaps that is a possibility for you too.

The issues you bring up are concerning. You’re not on the same page regarding your kids’ education and healthcare. And your reputation is besmirched in your community.

Some members have frequently quoted “I’d rather come from a broken home than live in one.”  

I don’t have children, but I did live in a home with a BPD mother, and have the war wounds to show for it. Therapy as an adult has helped me to largely overcome some of the deficits that I modeled as a child, observing and copying her behavior.

What concerns me most of the three topics you’ve mentioned is that your children are not getting proper medical care and that they may not be reaching their potential in school due to your wife’s interventions.



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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2021, 05:18:30 PM »

I, too, was in a dysfunctional relationship with my husband, though not nearly so extreme as the relationship I was in with my ex husband, which involved abuse, infidelity, drug abuse, and criminality.

That said, I’ve been able to make great strides towards having a more healthy relationship with a BPD spouse. And perhaps that is a possibility for you too.

The issues you bring up are concerning. You’re not on the same page regarding your kids’ education and healthcare. And your reputation is besmirched in your community.

You have certainly been through the wringer and come out of it with excellent wisdom.  I thank you (and everyone) for your patience with my issues.

With respect to my reputation, I'm very much a "water off a duck's back" sort of person if people disagree with my beliefs, politics, opinions on what pattern I should mow my grass, whatever.  If people want to be upset about anything that is correct and honest about me, I don't care.  Everyone has that right.  It does bother me that I'm being accused of things that are not true.  In some cases I think what she puts out there is her warped perception.  In other cases, I know that she knows what she puts out there is an outright lie.  The common denominator is that in all cases the narrative she puts out there is to maintain her victim status.  She can never get enough.   


Some members have frequently quoted “I’d rather come from a broken home than live in one.”
 

I've heard this before elsewhere and also don't disagree with it, but taking off when kids are involved is something I still can't separate from the equation.  Since the moment they came into this world, all of my decisions now include them as a first priority.


What concerns me most of the three topics you’ve mentioned is that your children are not getting proper medical care and that they may not be reaching their potential in school due to your wife’s interventions.

Me too.  That's why it was number one on my list.  To compound all of this, for me there is a level of betrayal simmering below the surface and the more I have learned, it has become boiling.  For example, prior to getting married we discussed things regarding child rearing to make sure we were on the same page, all that good stuff, including immunizations (which I realize today is a hotter topic than ever).  We agreed (or so I thought) that they should have essentials like MMR, etc., things necessary for school admission and so forth, but also that it wasn't wise to take an hours-old baby and load them up with ton of chemicals.  Basically to keep it limited to what we would have had when we were kids.  Rather, find a sympathetic pediatrician, get them on a schedule at several months old, and get the bulk of it taken care of before they are old enough to remember it (that was important to me because I have an irrational fear of needles and bad memories with that as a child).  Give them positive experiences and a mentally healthy mindset with respect to going to the doctor at an early age so it will become a good habit that follows them through life.  She agreed with all of this.  It was not until after we got married that after years of stonewalling I found out she never had any intention of honoring any of this.  Not a change of mind over time -- she was lying prior to marriage.  Of course, she uses my heavy work load with a generous dose of chaos to create a sandstorm any time I have tried to settle the issue. 

I will add that, fortunately, my children are very good any healthy, but for me that is not a reason to not have an established relationship with a pediatrician.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  It includes other topics I am not comfortable discussing here more than I have in the past, but let us just say there has never been any aspect of this marriage I can look back on as normal or enjoyable.  Every aspect of her life comes with some level of distortion.  I'm so disappointed in the whole thing. 

     
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2021, 11:15:36 AM »

Couper, if I'm tracking, this is your situation:

There is 0 collaboration between you and W.
You consider the marriage done.
You are staying together so that you can take care of the kids.

Is that all accurate?

The hurdle that I see (and that I suspect you see as well) is:

While you are staying in the home and in the marriage, you still "can't" (?) take care of the kids.

You've mentioned:
Your kids are suffering with school and she is a roadblock.
You try to approach your W about getting the kids set up with a pediatrician, but she freaks out and nothing gets done.

Would it be accurate to say that "whatever has been tried in the past" has not worked for you to be able to take care of your kids?

Given that you already experience no collaboration, and are a parent of equal legal standing with your W, what stops you from taking the kids to the pediatrician on your own?

I'm not asking to be "snarky" or have an "aha, caught you" moment. I would like to understand more about "what is the worst case scenario" of you acting on your values of staying married AND taking care of the kids, given that the kids are your #1 priority. Like, if she's already raging about stuff, obstructing, not putting the kids first, etc, what would be worse about her doing all that and ALSO having the kids be taken care of?

Are we thinking like "if Couper takes the kids to the Dr without Wife's approval, then things will get really bad, and Wife might do X, Y, and Z, that she hasn't done before"?

What would the new X, Y, and Z be, that would be worse than whatever is already happening?

I hope that question makes sense...

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« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2021, 08:41:39 PM »

Couper, if I'm tracking, this is your situation:

There is 0 collaboration between you and W.
You consider the marriage done.
You are staying together so that you can take care of the kids.

Is that all accurate?

Essentially.  She feeds them, she drives them around to things.  I would say it's more accurate to say that I stay so that I can be a buffer when she's either taking out her issues on them or when she checks-out because something has set her off.  I can't envision how those scenarios would play out were it just the three of them without me.  I also really love being around my kids.


The hurdle that I see (and that I suspect you see as well) is:

While you are staying in the home and in the marriage, you still "can't" (?) take care of the kids.

You've mentioned:
Your kids are suffering with school and she is a roadblock.
You try to approach your W about getting the kids set up with a pediatrician, but she freaks out and nothing gets done.

Would it be accurate to say that "whatever has been tried in the past" has not worked for you to be able to take care of your kids?

There again, I serve a purpose here that I could not serve if I were not.  Regarding those specific topics though, yes.  I have been unsuccessful in finding a path forward.

To put some more background to this, when they were born they had a pediatrician set up through the hospital that they went to for a few years.  Since we were on the same page with not starting a schedule immediately, there were no red flags.  Then when I started saying I thought it was the time we talked about, "okay, I'll set it up next visit", then the obfuscation starts.  I don't know what truly was discussed during those visits but I did learn after the fact that the doctor was also hounding her, so now I know why she quit going.  When I pressed harder saying I wanted it done and I want to see a plan that's when all the "I was studying this 20 years ago, you just don't understand" stuff came about ("studying" is internet and books -- she has zero medical training) and a firestorm of other crazy behavior that was probably produced to overwhelm me.  We moved when they were 3 and 5 and, obviously, discussions since have not been productive.  


Given that you already experience no collaboration, and are a parent of equal legal standing with your W, what stops you from taking the kids to the pediatrician on your own?

I'm not asking to be "snarky" or have an "aha, caught you" moment. I would like to understand more about "what is the worst case scenario" of you acting on your values of staying married AND taking care of the kids, given that the kids are your #1 priority. Like, if she's already raging about stuff, obstructing, not putting the kids first, etc, what would be worse about her doing all that and ALSO having the kids be taken care of?

Are we thinking like "if Couper takes the kids to the Dr without Wife's approval, then things will get really bad, and Wife might do X, Y, and Z, that she hasn't done before"?

I don't see an "aha" here.  You're helping me through a complicated situation and I am very grateful for that.  I don't approach questions with that mindset that someone is out to get me.

Perhaps to better frame the situation, her stance on this issue is, "I'm not going to let that happen".  So yes, absolutely, X, Y, and Z all day long.  It's not a matter of she's going to let me do something that she's not willing to do herself so long as I set it up.  

So then what?  I'm not in a position where I can sneak them out.  She's going to have to know about it.  


What would the new X, Y, and Z be, that would be worse than whatever is already happening?

Taking the kids and skipping town is what I envision her doing.
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2021, 09:49:13 AM »

Excerpt
Taking the kids and skipping town is what I envision her doing.

OK, that is exactly what I was curious about.

And yes, we're definitely not here to brainstorm "how does Couper do this the most sneakily, how does Couper hide taking them to the doctor". Not helpful.

So, your concern is:

The kids need routine medical checkups. Your wife does not see this as necessary. It has been a matter of luck so far that the kids haven't needed to go. If you take them on your own, the worst case scenario is that at some point after you come back, she will leave and take the kids with her.

What would happen if you privately got a couple of legal opinions about this scenario?

I am sorting out in my head the "hierarchy of values" at play here. It's fair that each individual has their own "values pyramid" and that we assess and rearrange priorities as life changes. Just kind of what we do.

Is this sort of how your "hierarchy of values" is ordered at the moment?

Top value for you:

Excerpt
stay so that I can be a buffer when she's either taking out her issues on them or when she checks-out because something has set her off.  I can't envision how those scenarios would play out were it just the three of them without me.

Next 2 values for you, in no particular order:

Kids' routine medical care
Kids' education

I am wondering if right now, the "price" that is paid for you to stay in the house and day-to-day involved in your kids' lives is that they are not seen by an outside medical professional... or, really, by any outside professional. We've chatted about this before, and your W sounds like my H's kids' mom -- she must be the absolute expert on everything. There's no room for either of us to "truly know" the kids, or to have an opinion that is more accurate than hers, she has the most profound insight into their needs, etc etc etc.

So then the question is, what does Couper do with this situation, where it seems like the price he pays to be more tangibly present with the kids is that they don't get routine medical attention or professional educational intervention (question just struck me, do they go to the dentist?)

How do you figure out when to "pull the trigger" and rearrange your hierarchy of values and take them to the pediatrician, for example; what would precipitate that, what preparation would you need for that rearrangement? I think that's why I'm proposing getting 2 or 3 legal opinions about your situation; not because it means you would "have to" do whatever you're hypothesizing, but just so you get more concrete data about "ok, let's say the time comes where it's obvious to me I need to take the kids to the doctor... and based on my experience, it's possible W would see that as fanning the flames and would run off with the kids afterwards... what documentation would I need to have been gathering, what conversations would I need to have been recording, how much data/evidence would I need in order to instantly turn that around"

...

There is a second strand through all this, which is your regret and resentment about how you feel misled and betrayed by your W. It comes through strongly, and makes a lot of sense. I feel grief for you and your family as I hear how this wasn't how you wanted things to go, and this wasn't the parenting relationship with W that you thought you would have.

Coming from the other side of things (it's been 10+ years since DH and his kids' mom divorced, and let me tell you, it's been a ride), you will be a more effective parent to your kids, whether you stay or leave, if you choose to untangle the regret/resentment from the coparenting. Keep them in their own lanes.

You could decide if you want to spin off another thread on that work, and keep this one more to the logistics. Do whatever you're ready for.

...

Curious about your thoughts on getting legal takes on that "worst case scenario"...

kells76
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2021, 06:19:40 PM »

There seems to be a gap on this board.  If I had asked the question in "detaching" I would probably have been told that is not the place for it.  When somebody like me is stuck where I am but I'm not living under the illusion that I can totally fix things, it seems like an all-or-nothing take on what we should be doing.

Conflicted would be a better fit. theres a board for all circumstances, but it all really depends on the type of support youre seeking.

youre in "survival mode". "get through it with as little destruction as possible mode". its a fundamentally different mode than trying to improve a relationship. its like living with a bad roommate.

there are lots of tools for that. its really a combination of stopping the bleeding, not fueling the conflict, and to some extent, avoiding it all together when you can.
 
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     and I think it's gonna be all right; yeah; the worst is over now; the mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball…
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2021, 06:59:23 PM »

This situation is heartbreaking. I don’t feel that I am qualified to offer much help, but I guess it couldn’t hurt to offer my thoughts. Take them for what they are worth. I have read a lot of posts where people are documenting what is going on, that they might be able to use in the future. Some are recording the interactions. Would it be wise to get legal counsel, so if you decide to leave you are one step ahead of her accusations. Could lack of medical care be seen as a form of child abuse?

I agree that coming from a broken home is better than living through the dysfunction. I lived in such a home and there were nights that I cried myself to sleep, praying that they would split up. It was a war zone. The result of my childhood is two verbally abusive ex husband’s and my last relationship with a BPD, who is now also an ex. That was all I knew about love. I married what I was familiar with.  Both my siblings are divorced and my sister’s  second husband is more abusive then her first. She is sadly still with him, making excuses for his behavior. Knowing what I know now, I believe that my father may have had BPD and my mother had narcissist traits. They have both passed.

I have had a lot of therapy over the years and feel I am doing quite well considering. My last therapist (I got to help, as a result of being with a BPD)said that she felt I no longer needed her.

Are you in, or thought about therapy?

I wish you the best!
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2021, 07:06:47 PM »

I just read another post where you stated that you were in fact journaling. Good for you!
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« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2021, 10:45:12 AM »

So, your concern is:

The kids need routine medical checkups. Your wife does not see this as necessary. It has been a matter of luck so far that the kids haven't needed to go. If you take them on your own, the worst case scenario is that at some point after you come back, she will leave and take the kids with her.

The specific crux of the issue is vaccinations that have been proven to be routine and safe.  The checkup itself I don't think she has any objection to.  Her objection is vaccinations and also that she knows most any doctor she goes to is going to press for having it done (like the last one).  Rather than push back and say, "My children, my choice" with the doctor, she throws the baby out with the bathwater and doesn't take them at all.

Separately from this, I want the vaccinations.  We agreed to this before they were even born and the first pediatrician visits made after they were born were with the intent of taking care of this.  So, there are few different dynamics at play.

However, it's not going to be an, "I do it and she takes off afterwards with the kids" thing, it's a, "won't ever happen because she will skip town beforehand" thing.   


What would happen if you privately got a couple of legal opinions about this scenario?

That's where my thinking has been headed as of late.  Just have to find that person, set it up, pay cash, etc.  If she knows I went to a lawyer about this I'd have a whole new mess on my hands before ever getting started.


I am sorting out in my head the "hierarchy of values" at play here. It's fair that each individual has their own "values pyramid" and that we assess and rearrange priorities as life changes. Just kind of what we do.

Is this sort of how your "hierarchy of values" is ordered at the moment?

Top value for you:

Being there as a buffer for the kids.


Next 2 values for you, in no particular order:

Kids' routine medical care
Kids' education

I think that's fair.


I am wondering if right now, the "price" that is paid for you to stay in the house and day-to-day involved in your kids' lives is that they are not seen by an outside medical professional... or, really, by any outside professional. We've chatted about this before, and your W sounds like my H's kids' mom -- she must be the absolute expert on everything. There's no room for either of us to "truly know" the kids, or to have an opinion that is more accurate than hers, she has the most profound insight into their needs, etc etc etc.

So then the question is, what does Couper do with this situation, where it seems like the price he pays to be more tangibly present with the kids is that they don't get routine medical attention or professional educational intervention (question just struck me, do they go to the dentist?)

Yes, I remember the parallels between our situations.  In my w's mind I don't know how often it is about her having the most profound insight into the kids needs.  More often than not, I think that is the excuse.  Different subjects have different motivations.  The reality is it all has to do with her needs.  For example, it is impossible to deny that my son would benefit from help with his math.  The reality is (in her mind) she will not get him that help because she would have to admit that somebody else is better suited to do the job than her.  The reality is it would be proven that it takes more than griping at him that he's not doing enough (like doing the actual work of a teacher).  I could keep going, but you get it.  It's a vicious self-sabotaging merry-go-round and he's the one losing out.

More of what I could do here vs. what I could do if not here would be a question for the lawyer. 

Dentist -- yes.  Interesting you ask that.  They go and, in fact, my D8 has had to have some cavities addressed recently.  See, those injections aren't vaccines (but she still doesn't like them.... or amalgam fillings.... or any fillings).  If the dentist was in a position to push for having them vaccinated though, they wouldn't even be going for cleanings.  See how this works?  Interestingly enough, my S10 had to have his first filling several weeks ago and uBPDw took him.  At home I was told he was a real trooper.  A week later I went in for a filling myself and no sooner than the dentist came in the room, he said, "Your son did great last week, but man, what is wrong with your wife?"  Those were his exact words.  Can you imagine how frustrating it had to have been for him to have a professional clobber you in the face with that?  He went on to explain that she stayed in the room and apparently was quite a distraction for him "freaking out".  I can envision it.  I’m proud of my son preserving in spite of her.  Next my daughter has a cavity in a baby tooth that ultimately requires being pulled.  Apparently D8 had a meltdown and the dentist referred us to an oral surgeon rather than pull it himself.  I should have taken her because now I don’t know what really happened.  Going to the dentist is scary, I get it.  Maybe it was all on D8, but after what I was told at my last visit I have to wonder if my wife was freaking out again and everything snowballed.  D8 has had to go back for three other small cavities and I had to backchannel through the office staff and beg the dentist to do it.  Nobody else could get her in for weeks and if not treated we would be facing her having to have more baby teeth pulled.  I wanted to take her myself but she “wants mommy” and I know the dentist isn’t going to tolerate having a family reunion in his exam room.  Since it was urgent, he agreed to try the first filling, but I learned later he made my wife stay in the waiting room and D8 walk back without her.  I’m sure she cried, but all I know is, after that, he agreed to do the last cavities (subsequent visits).  W was made to wait outside again and that went well.  Last visit, for some reason, he let my wife come back and that apparently didn’t go well.  In all fairness, I’m not there, but the narrative seems to be that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.           


How do you figure out when to "pull the trigger" and rearrange your hierarchy of values and take them to the pediatrician, for example; what would precipitate that, what preparation would you need for that rearrangement? I think that's why I'm proposing getting 2 or 3 legal opinions about your situation; not because it means you would "have to" do whatever you're hypothesizing, but just so you get more concrete data about "ok, let's say the time comes where it's obvious to me I need to take the kids to the doctor... and based on my experience, it's possible W would see that as fanning the flames and would run off with the kids afterwards... what documentation would I need to have been gathering, what conversations would I need to have been recording, how much data/evidence would I need in order to instantly turn that around"

Once again – I don’t see her running off afterwards…. it would happen before the visit could be made.  That’s lawyer territory again.  Deep down inside I know this is where it has been heading, but this is moving into the territory of having to prepare to mount legal action against her.
...

There is a second strand through all this, which is your regret and resentment about how you feel misled and betrayed by your W. It comes through strongly, and makes a lot of sense. I feel grief for you and your family as I hear how this wasn't how you wanted things to go, and this wasn't the parenting relationship with W that you thought you would have.

Coming from the other side of things (it's been 10+ years since DH and his kids' mom divorced, and let me tell you, it's been a ride), you will be a more effective parent to your kids, whether you stay or leave, if you choose to untangle the regret/resentment from the coparenting. Keep them in their own lanes.

Oh, I make no bones about that!  I might even term it as a bait-and-switch.  The deceit involved frames my entire perspective of her.  I don’t let it affect my decision making in a tit-for-tat fashion, though.  There is no “two wrongs make a right” going on and I keep the issues segregated.  Like pressing for the vaccinations – it’s not because I know it will hurt her (although that is always her take on my motivations).  There are other concurrent things that I haven’t even posted about and, if I did, would take so much time and energy that I (and I’m sure others) do not have.  I’m very much an “eat the elephant a bite at a time” kind of person, but I’m afraid this elephant continues to grow.   
 
Thanks to you (and everyone) for sharing your wisdom.
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« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2021, 10:54:46 AM »

Conflicted would be a better fit. theres a board for all circumstances, but it all really depends on the type of support youre seeking.

youre in "survival mode". "get through it with as little destruction as possible mode". its a fundamentally different mode than trying to improve a relationship. its like living with a bad roommate.

there are lots of tools for that. its really a combination of stopping the bleeding, not fueling the conflict, and to some extent, avoiding it all together when you can.
 

By all means, move it if necessary.  I don't care and don't want to jumble up a board with something that doesn't belong.  So "survival mode" questions should be posted on "conflicted"?  I feel like I did something somewhere once and it got moved elsewhere because for the "type" of help it wasn't in the right place.  Other times, it seems to be defined by the state we're in ourselves and not what we're asking.  I'm sure it's difficult making a place for all scenarios without it becoming too fractured into a zillion little subsets.

I'm trying to find time to go through more of the articles.  I wish I could just shut off the world and take a break from all of this.  There are only so many hours in the day.  I don't know how you guys that run the place do it.  Forums take a lot of behind the scenes maintenance.   
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« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2021, 10:59:06 AM »

This situation is heartbreaking. I don’t feel that I am qualified to offer much help, but I guess it couldn’t hurt to offer my thoughts. Take them for what they are worth....

I have had a lot of therapy over the years and feel I am doing quite well considering. My last therapist (I got to help, as a result of being with a BPD)said that she felt I no longer needed her.

Are you in, or thought about therapy?

I wish you the best!

Thoughts, wishes, prayers, etc. are worth their weight in gold and I thank you for anything you can offer!  I am very glad to hear that you are in a better place today than in the past.

I've been looking for someone.  Research, get distracted, look for windows of time to do it, etc.  I'm getting closer, I think.
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« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2021, 06:20:19 PM »

Brief comment on the "which board does this thread belong on" question.

If the goal is to stay in the marriage in order to act as a buffer/protection for the kids, then skillbuilding here on Bettering will contribute to "less bad" coparenting interactions.

It was discussed above that using different ways of interaction can seem like "acting". Briefly, my POV is that it will be acting... as long as that is how it is treated. When the person trying the new way of interaction means it genuinely, then it isn't acting. Less about "the thing" being done, more about the intent.

Any tool or skill or process may feel "fake" or "weird" when hearing about it for the first time or trying it at the start. Repetition and embodiment and, more importantly, choosing to repeat/embody, intentionally, are what will take a new approach from "acting"/"being an actor" to reality.

So, I see the options for tools/skills/new interactions as something that the "user" chooses to take seriously. That's what makes them effective... the "how", not the "what". Dismissing a new skill as "I'd just be faking it" doesn't, from my POV, allow you time to embody it so that it DOESN'T seem fake. Of course the first few times will be weird. Consider allowing more time, more opportunities, to hone what you're doing.

It'd be kind of like trying to ride a bike for the first time, wobbling/falling off a lot, and being like, "well, bikes suck, they don't work". It really depends on what you want and how much effort you're willing to put in.

Couper, given that your #1 priority is staying in the home for your kids, consider keeping "Bettering" on your radar. When you can have new ways of interacting with your wife that decrease conflict and her wacky stuff... THAT is the buffer your kids need.

Of course, don't hesitate to also post on "Conflicted" as there are members with LOTS of legal and coparenting experience there.

Hope you and the kids get some peace today...

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« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2021, 11:20:00 PM »

I feel like I did something somewhere once and it got moved elsewhere because for the "type" of help it wasn't in the right place.

some members fluctuate. i know i did.

if youre still in a committed relationship, its generally best to start off here on Bettering. in some cases, for various reasons, theres little to no room for that.

i dont mean to detract from your OP. my initial point was that if your heart is not in the relationship, or, by and large, shifting the way the two of you engage in and resolve conflict, then relationship building tools are barking up the wrong tree. that may change, or not.

to Kells' point, it isnt the tools themselves. they work with anyone. i dont have anyone with bpd in my life (that is close to me), and i use them all the time, both here on these boards and in my personal life.

it is, ultimately, a matter of where you are currently (which may change) and where you want to go.

what i read in your posts is that presently, you are in a loveless marriage, your wife is the primary source of the conflict, you want to vent about that, some ways to reduce it might help, and validation for your side of the conflict wouldnt hurt. thats fair and a valid place to be. there are tools for those circumstances. you should know though, that the responsibility for affecting change is ultimately going to fall on you. the way the two of you engage, at this point, is long and well established. improvement will almost certainly be slow, inconsistent, and minimal.

you should know as well, that in a loveless and deteriorating marriage, there is no trust. resolving conflict tends to be about either getting through it relatively unscathed (ideal), or one upping the other person (not ideal). navigating issues resolving the children is very likely to increasingly become a competition, as if you are parallel parenting, rather than co-parenting. that can change. you will need to lead.

one of my favorite pieces on this site, whether you are trying to improve your relationship, whether you are trying to survive it, whether the relationship is officially over and you are trying to co-parent, is the fair fighting rules: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=164901.0

its a good start when it comes to assessing how you might reduce and limit conflict. where are you strongest? where are you weakest?

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