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Before you can make things better, you have to stop making them worse... Have you considered that being critical, judgmental, or invalidating toward the other parent, no matter what she or he just did will only make matters worse? Someone has to be do something. This means finding the motivation to stop making things worse, learning how to interrupt your own negative responses, body language, facial expressions, voice tone, and learning how to inhibit your urges to do things that you later realize are contributing to the tensions.
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Author Topic: SD16 lied to us about something related to Mom/Stepdad  (Read 273 times)
kells76
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« on: May 26, 2022, 01:12:13 PM »

Brief backstory points for context:

It's obvious and known that DH and I have different values and beliefs in some key areas from the kids. That being said, if the kids want to do something that DH and I are not interested in doing because of our different beliefs, at this point we don't "forbid" or "ban" (99% of the time). So, a couple of years ago, the kids were interested in doing an LGBTQ event during our weekend together, and while DH and I did not choose to take them, we let Mom/Stepdad take the kids to the event on our time. Point being, this was talked about in the open and decided on in the open.

Also, the kids sometimes want to do something involving Mom/Stepdad or their family friends on our time. A month or so ago they had some family friends flying back home overseas, and the kids wanted to say goodbye to them, but again, it was our weekend. They asked if they could do so and we said OK and I gave them transportation to and from Mom's house. Again, side note, SD16 had this belief many years ago about me that "I hated gay people". I told her I must have done something pretty horrible for her to think that, but she had no examples. These family friends are gay. Point being, it's not like we're keeping the kids at home in bonnets and aprons and forbidding them to do stuff that we may have different values or beliefs around. The kids had the experience of saying "can we go say goodbye to these friends" and then DH and I making it happen for them.

Additionally, I've had strong suspicions for ~1.5 years or so that a "close" female family friend (FFF) is not just that, but likely there is either an affair between Stepdad and her, or there is some kind of "open marriage" thing or "throuple" thing going on. It's unclear what Mom's level of awareness is. The husband of FFF used to be close friends with Stepdad. FFF & Husband just separated and I think are divorcing. The kids said that FFF is now living "around the corner" from them.

So there's a foundation for: we don't tell you you can't do stuff with Mom/Stepdad on our time, and we don't stop you from doing things even though we don't share beliefs about them, and we know that Mom and Stepdad are "close friends" with this person.

...

So last Wednesday we were chatting with SD16 about what she had going on, and she was like, I have a ton of stuff going on this weekend, I want to see my friends in the school musical, I got asked to tutor someone's kid, and can you take me to the local Hispanic market because I want to make tacos and see my friend who works there. DH and I said Just let us know how we can support you in this.

Friday rolled around and I asked if she had a time set up for tutoring, and offered that SD14 and I could drop her off on our way to do something else. She said "oh, Person hasn't gotten in touch with me yet", and then I think I saw her on the phone, so I assumed she was working it out. We even talked about why SD16 was tutoring and had a whole conversation about "I wonder what the kid's hurdle is, she seems capable but has X problem" so this whole long discussion.

Saturday morning I again asked if she wanted a ride, but she said she was going to walk over to Mom's and get her bike and bike over. This was the first time it seemed odd, because we have plenty of bikes she could borrow, but I let it go. DH had a thing going on so he had taken off, and when SD14 and I left the house, SD16 was still there.

SD14 and I got back home ~3+ hours later and she wasn't home. DH went out front to work on the yard, and apparently SD16 came home then. Neither came in for a while, and when SD16 finally came in, I asked her how tutoring went. She said that she hadn't done tutoring, had just had a long conversation with DH about it, and had actually gone to the airport with Mom and Stepdad to welcome back female family friend (FFF). I asked her what she thought was so hard about telling us what was going on, and she said it wasn't hard, she just chose not to tell us. She said that she was going to tutor on Tuesday, so it wasn't like it wasn't happening. I asked her what she thought she could do differently next time, and she said that she could just say "I don't want to talk about what I'm doing" instead.

We did take her to see the school musical (dropped off and picked up, we didn't stay), and to see her friend and buy taco stuff, that weekend. So we didn't immediately choose to have consequences for her (like, how can we trust that you are actually going to stay and watch the musical). DH and I checked in with each other about it later and he said she didn't apologize to him, either. We didn't touch the topic with her the rest of the weekend. When the kids got picked up from our house on Sunday eve it was Stepdad and FFF, not Stepdad and Mom.

At that point both he and I definitely thought something fishy was going on, given that -- we don't stop the kids from spending time with Mom/Stepdad even on our time, we don't have a problem with the kids saying Hi/Bye to family friends at airports, and even if there is something "different from our values" going on, we don't "ban" the kids from involvement or talking about it. So all I can figure is that either SD16 thinks we DON'T know what's going on and would be shocked/reactive if she said something, or she thinks we might know what's going on but doesn't want to deal with however she thinks we'll respond.

Then SD14 texted Sunday night to see if we could drop some of her stuff off at Mom's (that she wanted for school), so I took it over really early Monday a.m. before work and left it. They have 2 vehicles and "vehicle 1" that Stepdad & FFF used to pick up the kids wasn't there. I'm not trying to be paranoid or "find the evidence", but I also wasn't born yesterday.

...

So the last few days DH and I have been discussing how to follow up with SD16, because the issue with her not apologizing isn't about "getting her to say the words I'm Sorry", it's more about -- if she can't see how her choices impacted the trust between us, then she's going to have serious issues in relationships. It's not important to me the specific words she says, but it's really important to me that there's followup where she has an opportunity to take responsibility for what she decided to do, and that she can at least understand that whatever she meant to do, it impacted the trust I feel I have in her. If she can't or won't see that, then I'm pretty concerned. My T also recommended that we recognize and appreciate that she DID fess up. What's interesting is that she did come clean, because she could've come home on Saturday and when DH asked how tutoring went, say "Sorry it went late, it was fine, what are we up to now" and we NEVER would have known.

...

Then yesterday I picked SD16 up from school. She seemed kind of "blah" and we got to talking. She said she's letting go of doing so much because there's stuff taking her emotional energy and there are "chaotic relationships". I asked if it was with friends or at school and she said No. I asked if she was "involved" or more on the side "supporting" and I think she said "supporting". I validated that it made a lot of sense because chaotic relationships almost magnetically suck our emotional energy. Then she went off on a tangent about how she hates it when DH is "obsessed" with her grades, because she's done a lot of work to not find her self worth through a number, and she's trying to let go of doing so much, and she "just doesn't get" why he is so focused on grades (note, SD16 is a very capable student and usually mostly A's and a B or so, but last report card had a C which is atypical). Again, long convo where I shared that the issue for us isn't a number in and of itself, we don't care WHAT grades she gets, it's more about what the change might be signaling. She said it's typical for parents to just look at grade changes to see what's up with their kids, and she doesn't want us to check in with her just because of that. So (jiu jitsu) I said it sounded to me like she wanted MORE closeness, and MORE connection, and MORE conversation? She said No and that kind of slowed her down. Then she baited by saying "I have another family I can be vulnerable with" but I didn't touch that. She said that even if we checked in with how she was doing, she could just not talk or put up a wall. She also commented at some point that "I got the C on purpose". I asked if I was tracking with her correctly, that she made a conscious decision to get the C, and she said Yes. So I said that it somehow didn't seem fair to me, to make a choice like that, and then when asked about "so what's up with the C", to just not talk about it. Not sure if that got through.

Trying to keep this short. So I circled back to validating that she has been through a LOT the last couple years -- no closure with 8th grade grad, school change every year, near death experience (she almost drowned in the ocean on Mom/Stepdad's time), etc, so it made sense that with the journey she's been on inside, she'd hear someone say "what's up with that C" and not feel understood. I said that what we adults can work on and do differently is realize that the way we ask questions makes a difference, and find other ways to ask about what's going on. Asking questions that start with "Why did you" can feel like an interrogation and increase defensiveness. For her, I said it sounded important to find different ways to respond and slow the conversation down, like finding out why grades seem important to the other person. She said "Yeah, like asking Why is it so important to you" and I responded with "well, close, except starting a question with "Why did you" can escalate, so what if you said "Tell me more about why the grade seems so important to you"".

She seemed less escalated at this point (she got a "tone" when blaming DH for "obsessing" over grades) so I said that in regards to the "chaotic" relationships going on, DH and I didn't need to know the details, what was important to us was that she had someone she felt like she could talk to about it. Usually a neutral person was good, though if she wanted to talk to DH and I that was fine, or if she didn't that was fine, but if she decided she wanted to talk to someone neutral about it, we supported that and would help her make that happen. She said she'd think about it. I also said that I didn't know if she was concerned that I'd be shocked to hear what was going on, but I "didn't just fall off the turnip truck" and I see a lot and hear a lot. She got kind of a serious face then.

...

I think the theory/fear I had a few months ago, and posted about here, that there is something going on between Stepdad and FFF, is probably true. I don't know though if that means that Mom & Stepdad are splitting up. They at least make a good performance of "being together". It's interesting also that in the car yesterday SD16 didn't have to tell me that chaotic relationships were happening (and it's interesting that she used the word chaotic). She could've deflected to talk about something else but didn't. But also didn't tell me everything. I did tell her in our conversation that she has a right to privacy in her life, and that I know she intellectually understands there is a middle way between "total TMI" and "lie about it" -- I know she knows she can honestly say "I don't want to talk about it right now".

I'm afraid that SD16 is dumping things she likes in order to emotionally support adults in her life. I don't think I can convince her not to. I'm afraid because there are unknowns and I'm afraid that whatever relational chaos is going on at Mom's will somehow once again be used to minimize our time with the kids or poison our relationship with them. (DH commented "I wonder how long it'll be before they get the kids to call FFF their real stepmom", and it's a joke, and I'm secure in my relationship with the kids, but that is 110% EXACTLY something they'd do).

I don't even know if I really have a question. It's just all so crazy.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2022, 02:20:05 PM »

I think the situation between the two families is how each one lives out their political learnings and values. There's how the media presents people on each side of the political fence and then there's reality, where, between the two extremes are a whole lot of people just going about their lives according to what's important to them.

With BPD though, the black and white thinking falls aligns with what's in the media. The media wants readers. For the most part, people on the right and the left are mostly going about their very similar daily business ( mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, taking kids to school) but this doesn't make the news. Controversy does and that is often the most unusual extreme behaviors. With BPD, there's a poor sense of self. So if one considers themselves to be liberal, but they don't know who they are, then they model this on what they think they need to appear to others and what they see and hear.

So it looks like you and your H have a sense of who you are. Your values lean towards conservative/traditional but they are not black and white. While you may not be interested in attending an LGBTQ event, you don't hate gay people and you don't stop other people from attending one if they want to. The boundary is "what is you, what isn't you". If something isn't your cup of tea, well it might be someone else's. It doesn't require you dislike that someone else. This is how people co-exist.

Someone with BPD may not be able to see the nuances. Ex and her H lean left and it's a part of their sense of self. Coexistence is hard when there is black and white thinking and a poor sense of boundaries. If they are left, and you are right, well then you must be what they think of as "leaning right", not the actual reality of who you are. To them, if you lean right, then you must be all of what they read in the news.

Sadly, I think this is also what they share with the girls and so that is why your D assumed that if you don't attend the LGBTQ function then, you must also hate gay people. But that isn't true and I am glad your D was able to ask about it and give you the chance to clear that up.

Personally, I prefer the idea of cognitive dissonance. My BPD mother has told her family members untrue and derogatory things about me, but what they see is a non dramatic person, who holds a job, raises kids, seems very ordinary to them. Eventually they have to wonder about what she tells them. It's not what they see.

Likewise, you all aren't dressed up like the Handmaid's tale and you don't act like what they hear at their mother's house. Eventually they have to begin to question that. I think it's great that you keep the door open to discuss their interests and friends. You allow them the space to do what interests them while being true to your own values. I think that shows them how to coexist with people who have different opinions.

While your D didn't tell the truth about picking up FFF at airport, she did eventually tell you, and I think your not reacting to this was a good thing. One possible reason she didn't tell you is that, she possibly was afraid you'd begin to ask questions about this. I agree, it's a bit unusual for a married couple to be that close with a single  FFF.  I think if you push the not telling you with her, asking her to apologize, this could close her down more. If it turns out that they become a "threeple" with this other person, well, I still think the main step parent bond  is with you and your H. I think I'd let this one play out. All may seem cool to mom and her H for the moment, but if BPD relationships can be unstable, I don't think it's going to be easy to add one more person- as that makes a triangle.

Keep the door open for your girls to talk. The girls are loved unconditionally.







« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 02:26:18 PM by Notwendy » Logged
kells76
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2022, 04:57:08 PM »

Thanks Notwendy.

Excerpt
I prefer the idea of cognitive dissonance. My BPD mother has told her family members untrue and derogatory things about me, but what they see is a non dramatic person, who holds a job, raises kids, seems very ordinary to them. Eventually they have to wonder about what she tells them. It's not what they see.

Intellectually and spiritually I am on board with the concept. I am OK with living a life where it's what I do that communicates to the kids more than what I say. And I am also intellectually/spiritually "there" with the idea that I don't really have any control over what the kids think or believe, and it's their choice what they believe. Part of me, and I have conflict about this, "looks forward" to when they are adults and there is a "letting go" I tell myself I can do, where once they're each 18, I can say -- you know what, you're adults, and if you want to do X, Y, and Z that are completely counter to my values and totally destructive to your body, psyche, and emotions, then you "drive the car" on that, and I know that you'll ask me if you want my opinion.

I struggle more with the daily grind of it right now, as they're 14 & 16, knowing that I have 4 more years of them being minors, and I am not ready to do that letting go process yet. That it's day in and day out modeling what I hope to be appropriate behaviors and moderate emotions and normal relationships with absolutely no guarantee of it making any impact. Again, yes, I intellectually understand and am OK with that, I'm not fighting the battle of "but I'm guaranteed in life to have kids that share my values". It just feels like getting ground down day after day after day, of feeling like no matter what I do or model, the attraction of whatever is going on at Mom's just sucks them in. I "get" that it can happen that much later in life, kids are like "I saw how you and Dad treated each other and it made a difference for me", but again... it's not a guarantee, and all these posts about all this stuff going on with Mom and Stepdad I think is really about me feeling a huge amount of grief.

If they were adults already, I tell myself that there would be a moment of "letting go" and I could move on, knowing I did all I could, but right now it feels like I am stuck with my face ground into unresolved grief that will continue for 4 more years.

And there aren't a lot of places I can go to talk about that, so when I post all the crazy stuff going on, that's why. I grieve that I feel completely powerless to protect the kids from dysfunction, toxicity, and enmeshment, and that they are roped into participating in their own traumatization, and that I have to watch.

...

There was another thing last Wednesday, too, related. DH occasionally teaches a short community class at the very small college he attended many years ago, and which Stepdad also attended. For a while, Stepdad got "more" opportunities to talk, and DH got none, but over time, that has shifted. DH has now taught 3 classes there and Stepdad hasn't taught or had anything published in the newsletter in almost 10 years. So DH had a class to teach last Wednesday, and he'd been prepping for it for months, and the kids knew. We didn't do the "hey, we really want you to come and be supportive, can you skip your Wednesday activity and come support Dad" move. We just moved forward "as if" SD16 would do her activity and not attend. Last Tuesday she called DH and said she really wanted to go to his talk. He chatted with her a bit about it, because it would mean missing a rehearsal for her thing, and they had a show coming up. He said as long as she knew she'd have to deal with that herself, it was fine with him. He ended by asking if there was anything else she wanted to tell him, and she said No.

DH and I talked and we both had a strong feeling that Stepdad was definitely going to be there, even though it was our time with SD16 (the classes are open so you can't stop people from attending). The last few times DH has taught, Stepdad shows up, and let's just say I don't think it's because he loves listening to DH and learning from him. If SD16 isn't at the talks then Stepdad leaves early. If SD16 is at the talks then Stepdad "encourages" her in her argumentative/provocative questions and over-validates her (You did SO good, you had SUCH a great question, I LOVE how you said that, YOU really get the topic). So it wasn't crazy to think that actually he was going to show up and do his thing.

And he did, and weirdly, Mom came too. She NEVER attends DH's talks and I cannot think of one reason why she would. They sat on both sides of SD16.

DH did great at interacting with SD16 straightforwardly, despite the fact that her vocabulary was obviously from Mom's house and her questions were less about wanting to learn more and more about "demonstrating her correct opinions". But DH treated her questions as serious.

Stepdad though was very activated, made provocative statements, talked rapidly, did not remember things he had just said, demeaned DH's choice of books to discuss, and said that while all of us were talking about the books, he wondered why we weren't talking about "the real problems" (which he then went on to elucidate). So basically he used DH's talk as a platform for elevating himself. DH didn't engage with him or take the bait.

The dynamic between SD16 and Mom/Stepdad was so overt that even one of DH's friends, who'd never seen the 3 of them together before, commented on how SD16 kept looking not to DH but to Mom/Stepdad for validation/approval. I talked about this with my T, who has seen Mom/Stepdad & the kids around before, and she commented that she has also seen the "performance" dynamic.

DH got a moment to chat with SD16 afterwards, and was at least able to ask her -- so what did you learn?

I was OK-ish through the talk but went numb and shut down when Stepdad started his rant. It is really painful to be forced to watch SD16 participating in the dynamic where she is "shown off" but in this way that is designed to set up an antagonism between her and DH. That is to say, if Stepdad shows up to the talks, then no matter what has been said or no said, SD16 "just knows" that she "has to" be the way Stepdad/Mom would approve of. And Mom/Stepdad are OK with this or at minimum are blind to it in their enjoyment of "showing off" SD16. Blind to how they are putting her up "against" DH, someone she should be free to love and learn from.

I don't know how many of you remember this, but the reason I joined  in 2015 was because the kids had been in a homeschool co-op for a year or two, and then the co-op asked DH to come on staff. Mom pulled the kids out of the school for the 1 year DH was on staff. When he was done, she reenrolled them. So there is this ongoing tacit dynamic of "you're not allowed to just listen to and learn from DH". She always has to be "supervised" by Stepdad, she is never given a chance on her own to see DH be admired, respected, and wise in public.

This is what grinds me down. It never ends and it never changes. Year after year after year, I have to look at the absolute hurtfulness of Mom/Stepdad putting SD16 in that position "against" DH, of sending the tacit message of "his thoughts are dangerous, he can't be trusted around you, we are the only ones who can protect you and tell you what he means, and give you the correct knowledge". I've survived 9 years of it and I am at my limit. It hurts really badly to feel like I cannot stop that harm from happening.
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2022, 05:17:51 AM »

I am so sorry. It seems for all your efforts to raise the kids with the values you respect (including the ability to understand that people can have different opinions and still try to get along) - their mother has painted you and DH as intolerant and seems to have to monitor and have their own input to anything you say and do. They call themselves the open minded ones.

Ironically, they are the ones preventing their children from learning about any other different points of view other than their own. This has to do with boundaries. It's been said that pwBPD see their children as extensions of themselves, rather than as individuals. You have treated the girls as individual people.

I think in some way, they must feel threatened by you and DH, otherwise they would not be so involved in monitoring and "undoing" your perspective. Some of this may be their own self image- the kids must reflect and validate their opinions and the kids get approval from their parents when they do that.

I think you can only do the best you can with this. I do think your example and input will have an impact, but you may not see it until later. Growing up, I could see that my friends' families were different from mine. These families were not all the same politically or in religion but that wasn't the main things I noticed. What I did notice was a sense of order. My family felt chaotic. Your D16 has alluded to this. Whatever the choice of the mothers- either at home, or career, they seemed calm and predictable. Coming home from school each day, we didn't know what mood our BPD mother would be in, what time dinner might be, if there even was going to be dinner ( she didn't cook, Dad might have to take us out).

I think you and your H are doing the best you can in the situation.
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kells76
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2022, 12:17:15 PM »

It helps to get feedback and reflection, so thank you.

Excerpt
for all your efforts to raise the kids with the values you respect (including the ability to understand that people can have different opinions and still try to get along)...

What you mentioned about trying to raise the kids with certain values sparked a thought:

I think a more fundamental grief I have isn't the "what" of the values. It's not that they have values that differ from mine. It's that it's so clear that the values they hold weren't acquired or maintained through healthy processes.

I get that it's really normal for kids growing up to parrot their family's values, genuinely, and to experience themselves as "really believing" X. And that it's normal for kids then to differentiate, to have experiences of being like "wow, I definitely said for all my life that X was important, but here I am now doing Y which is totally in conflict... what do I really believe?"

I think my issue is that the kids are not "allowed" to say values that differ from Mom/Stepdad's AND they aren't "allowed" to go through the normal differentiation process of "I've always said X but now I'm doing Y, I wonder if I believe something different from my family".

They're stuck in dogma, not able to proceed, because the tacit rules of the Mom's house family system are that "we've cornered the market on enlightenment" so why would you need to question anything you believe. You've got the package! You've attained insight! Nothing else to learn!

And that is where the grief and anger are -- not necessarily about what they believe (though many of the beliefs happen to be damaging), more so how it's going down, and that baked into that worldview is the requirement to not question, so you can't even question why you can't change your values or question your beliefs.
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2022, 12:29:38 PM »

Have they always been this radical?  Maybe this has already been suggested above, but one of the angles that strikes me is what my uBPDw once told me during a rare moment of unfiltered truth (under her breath, as though she was confessing) -- "Whenever somebody tells me to do something, I feel compelled to do the opposite".  

That was quite a revelation and confirmed my view that she will go to no ends when it comes to cutting off her nose thinking it's a way to spite others.  These "adults" that you describe are so far at the opposite end of your spectrum, that's what comes to mind.

I hate that this is happening to you.  We're raised thinking that if we're good to others, goodness will come back to us.  Then you get one of these BPD predators in your life and learn that those rules do not apply anymore.
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2022, 01:04:19 PM »

I understand and this is a result of the disfunction- kids are not able to differentiate and have their own opinions and ideas ( regardless of the background they are raised in ) and if it wasn't the political ideas that mom and SD have it would be some other ones.

It's interesting that in my ACA group, there's discussion about "religious abuse" where some members of the group grew up in a situation like this. It's also not just one religion- it's just the one their dysfunctional families embraced. Part of the work they did was to re discover that through their own ideas and see it as different from the one their parents reflected to them. Some stayed in the same one, some chose another one, some rejected religion altogether.

One could substitute the political views of mom and SD for religion. It's their own dysfunctional ideology they are promoting.

My BPD mom would latch on to the latest trend, and embrace it publicly as a form of self image, but it was superficial if looked at any further. One of my friend's mothers embraced the early feminist movement when it became a trend, and this talented woman became successful at her career, but I didn't hear a word from her about it, she just did it. She and my mother were friends and then the next thing I saw were feminists magazines in the house and BPD mother announced she would not do any housework anymore because she was now a feminist. But she didn't do housework before that and she didn't want a job outside the home.

Sometimes now, my mother will echo some political platform and when I ask her about it, she doesn't know much behind it. I think she's echoing the things she hears.

I don't think your girls have much choice to think about these things, and also they don't think about these things like an adult does. You do, but they are also at this teen age thing where they adopt what is trendy and it seems so does their mother. It's not good for kids to be enmeshed over anything. I agree, I think they will struggle to figure out who they are and what they feel is right for them at some point, but it's also a growth process for all adolescents. If you and DH keep the doors open for them to talk to, you will be a stable resource for them as they go through this.

I still believe that the most impressive people I have met are those who live their values more than they talk about it. In my own circle, I can recognize the people who do that from all kinds of belief systems and political opinions. They don't look for attention. Your girls can't see this now. Hopefully one day they will.
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2022, 03:41:02 PM »

SD16 had this belief many years ago about me that "I hated gay people".

This kind of thinking exists in our BPD blended family dynamic too.

The "complex/nuanced topic" turns into "you hate x."

When then SD16 announced she was trans male and wanted to be called by a male name, H responded that he would do his best to catch up, he loved her, and needed time to learn. Transexual was a new concept to him, she had a head start, etc.

This became, "My dad is a bigot."

When she said "My dad is a bigot" to me after announcing at 19 that she was gay, I said "SD19, I wouldn't be with someone who was a bigot." 

Her take was, "LnL is going to divorce dad because he's a bigot."

I often say about SD25 that she is very astute but not accurate. She can sense emotions yet her interpretation is almost always flawed because it always skews to worst-case.

You can trace this thinking to biomom (BPD). 

It's like higher order thinking is trickery that must be turned into black or white, skewed to the worst.

I don't think the propaganda or gaslighting or whitewashing or whatever you want to call it really ever goes away. It's entwined into the thought system and is part of how the stepkids process the world.

Even my oldest (non BPD) stepdaughter, who I adore and have a mutually positive relationship with, has to work her way through a lot of garbage, and she's been living independently since 17. The roots of BPD influence are deep. She just got out of a 6 year relationship with a guy who said, "I'm not a toxic male, I'm a sensitive guy," and then proceeded to be the neediest, clingiest, controlling dude, wanting her to parent him but then arguing with her relentlessly. They moved to LA and lived with her parents and to SD28's horror, she recognize his mom was BPD, and her BF had traits.

She said to me recently, I feel like a lifer  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

I'm trying to imagine how I would handle a conversation with SD28 like the one you had with SD16. Kudos for you having such restraint and also respect, plus a good dose of wisemind.

My hunch would be that mom and stepdad have effectively hard blocked you and H on any topic featuring non-traditional values. So SD16 cannot turn to you for help processing wacky adult relationships that look like cheating or polyamory, or that might be considered "too adult" for her age, another area hard blocked by telling her she is "more adult" than kids her age, therefore capable of processing relationships that lack boundaries.

As the girls get older, there will likely be more openings, ones they initiate. At least that has been the case with me. I have treated my relationship with SD28 as one of trust-building and when the existing regime does not help her move forward, she does confide to me altho I'm learning that she waits for me to initiate and that's tricky with uBPD mom in the wings.

Now that SD28 is older, if something similar to what you describe with SD16 occurred, I could be more forthcoming. "I caught a signal in my radar about FFF. Something seems up there."

And then be light as a fairy for what followed, if anything did.

I almost feel I have more influence as she gets older, not less.



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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2022, 08:51:28 PM »

My experience with my stepdaughters is similar -- I find I have more influence as they get older. They are marvelous women! But one admits that she partnered twice with men who were the male versions of her uBPD/NPD mother, and that has taken years for her to work through.
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2022, 08:55:34 AM »

 I said "SD19, I wouldn't be with someone who was a bigot."

I really like that answer. It reflects your own values/boundaries. It says "your father is not a bigot" without saying that, as that would be invalidating.
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« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2022, 02:22:28 PM »

@Couper:

Excerpt
Have they always been this radical?  Maybe this has already been suggested above, but one of the angles that strikes me is what my uBPDw once told me during a rare moment of unfiltered truth (under her breath, as though she was confessing) -- "Whenever somebody tells me to do something, I feel compelled to do the opposite".

I suspect, looking back, that she has always been this... what's the word... "doing what everybody Of Stature is doing". I remember back when the kids were in a homeschool co-op -- one that "everyone in her social circle" back then was doing. The "people to be admired", who seemed to "be with it" and "have it together" and "be successful" and "be looked up to", and there were 2 different families like that, each had the same vehicle -- like, same make/model/year/color. No idea whether it was coincidence or not. It's kind of a common vehicle, so could have been coincidence at that point. Anyway, when Mom got a new vehicle, it was... same make/model/year/color. Exactly.

So I get that it's less about the content, and more about -- she'll do whatever it takes, even when it's really, really obvious, to get some of that stature, recognition, acclaim, validation, etc, and it's very externally and tangibly based. It's not for her about "how can I have the inner character traits of those people I admire, how can I have their calm, generosity, sacrifice, integrity" etc, it's more about "look at the THING this person HAS or IS DOING, if I have that thing or do that thing, I too will receive the applause they seem to have".

It does not surprise me much any more that she could so quickly shift from "homeschool coop minivan" to "radical identity politics" because it isn't about the thing, it's about what whatever the thing is does for her. In that sense she is observant -- what gets the most Likes or clicks? She's doing that thing.
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« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2022, 02:27:39 PM »

@Notwendy:

Excerpt
if it wasn't the political ideas that mom and SD have it would be some other ones.

Excerpt
One could substitute the political views of mom and SD for religion. It's their own dysfunctional ideology they are promoting.

Yeah, that makes sense, and is definitely related to the thoughts that Couper's question raised for me. It is so little about the content and so much more about what it does for them.

Excerpt
they are also at this teen age thing where they adopt what is trendy and it seems so does their mother.

At this point in life, yes, they are all behaviorally and emotionally at a similar inner age. Their mom is also into trendy fashion, getting body modifications, neon hair, shopping, etc. There is not something inherently wrong with those things on their own. Perhaps it is more seeing those as pieces of a puzzle, where in conjunction with other choices she makes and other behaviors I've observed, paint a picture of her as not emotionally at an inner age much past a teen? Yet she does love to portray herself as "emotionally sophisticated and insightful". I guess teens do that too, I remember some moments like that myself.

Excerpt
If you and DH keep the doors open for them to talk to, you will be a stable resource for them as they go through this.

That is definitely our task right now.
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« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2022, 02:31:03 PM »

@Gagrl:

Excerpt
My experience with my stepdaughters is similar -- I find I have more influence as they get older. They are marvelous women! But one admits that she partnered twice with men who were the male versions of her uBPD/NPD mother, and that has taken years for her to work through.

I think that is what I fear for the kids, that they are going to get really, really hurt in their relationships, because of not being able to/not wanting to look at what has been modeled for them at Mom's house. And I guess a deeper fear is that if/when that happens, they won't want to get help and assistance in working past it.

I also get that painful and harmful decisions I made as a teen and young adult have given me perspective on what people are like, and I value that insight. Maybe it's normal to want them to be able to learn and be wise without getting traumatized. But I just wish they could be open to "seeing the light" sooner rather than later. And then there's the aspect where I fear the pain I may feel at "having to" watch them make really hurtful relational choices.

It's good that your SD was able to articulate the connection between who she chose to be with and what her role models were.
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« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2022, 02:42:30 PM »

@LnL:

Excerpt
When she said "My dad is a bigot" to me after announcing at 19 that she was gay, I said "SD19, I wouldn't be with someone who was a bigot."

Her take was, "LnL is going to divorce dad because he's a bigot."

I often say about SD25 that she is very astute but not accurate. She can sense emotions yet her interpretation is almost always flawed because it always skews to worst-case.

Wow... I mean, you do the best jiu-jitsu reply you can, and even that becomes weaponized. That's sure never happened to me  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

I wonder if your "astute but not accurate" description is like my "misattribution of causality" description -- where a pwBPD or pwBPD type traits can see "yes, there are heightened emotions going on" but can't/won't/doesn't identify the source (themselves). Yet they can't sit with "X is happening... from somewhere unknown" and so pin it on to you.

Excerpt
Even my oldest (non BPD) stepdaughter, who I adore and have a mutually positive relationship with, has to work her way through a lot of garbage, and she's been living independently since 17. The roots of BPD influence are deep. She just got out of a 6 year relationship with a guy who said, "I'm not a toxic male, I'm a sensitive guy," and then proceeded to be the neediest, clingiest, controlling dude, wanting her to parent him but then arguing with her relentlessly. They moved to LA and lived with her parents and to SD28's horror, she recognize his mom was BPD, and her BF had traits.

She said to me recently, I feel like a lifer

I think that's related to the fear I have, that Gagrl's comment brought up -- that it isn't going to end, that I will have to keep watching the pain and hurt that the kids endure, if it isn't from Mom/Stepdad, it'll be from a romantic partner. I tell myself that "once they're adults" it'll be easier for me to "detach with love" but I wonder underneath it all if I'm just telling myself that to get through the next 3 years 10 months.

What did you say when she commented about feeling like a lifer?

Excerpt
My hunch would be that mom and stepdad have effectively hard blocked you and H on any topic featuring non-traditional values. So SD16 cannot turn to you for help processing wacky adult relationships that look like cheating or polyamory, or that might be considered "too adult" for her age, another area hard blocked by telling her she is "more adult" than kids her age, therefore capable of processing relationships that lack boundaries.

THIS.

It is so interesting because a week+ ago (before the "car conversation") SD16 & I had a really good talk -- she used to be in a highly competitive sport, and we were talking about how the mindset there is how it doesn't matter if what you do isn't good for your body or for injuries, the most important thing is getting the points for your team. I asked her how she would've responded back then if someone had presented her with data and facts, and she said that honestly it would probably not have changed anything. I commented that it was interesting that for so many of those issues, the problem isn't a lack of information, it's about what the person wants, and she agreed. Like, the issue with her doing the sport despite SO many injuries wasn't that she didn't know, it's that she didn't want to stop.

I mentioned how it was interesting that there was a "baked in rebuttal" to any data/info being provided, like "hey, you know you're just hurting yourself not only now but down the road, right?" -- the rebuttal in the worldview being "I can take the pain, I'm tough enough". A "fact proof screen" for any Eric Hofer readers. And she agreed!

The conversation wound up and I restrained myself from pointing at two areas in her life where that same structure was functioning. But I pray that it planted a seed -- that she at least acknowledges that Yes, she has been involved in a culture/worldview where it was harmful to her, but what mattered to her wasn't what was true, but what she wanted.

Excerpt
when the existing regime does not help her move forward, she does confide to me

That is interesting and something I should look out for.

Excerpt
Now that SD28 is older, if something similar to what you describe with SD16 occurred, I could be more forthcoming. "I caught a signal in my radar about FFF. Something seems up there."

And then be light as a fairy for what followed, if anything did.

That also makes sense -- don't "hammer on it" but make ONE obvious statement and "let the bait dangle".

Excerpt
I almost feel I have more influence as she gets older, not less.

That is my prayer.
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« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2022, 02:44:44 PM »

@Gagrl:

I think that is what I fear for the kids, that they are going to get really, really hurt in their relationships, because of not being able to/not wanting to look at what has been modeled for them at Mom's house. And I guess a deeper fear is that if/when that happens, they won't want to get help and assistance in working past it.

I also get that painful and harmful decisions I made as a teen and young adult have given me perspective on what people are like, and I value that insight. Maybe it's normal to want them to be able to learn and be wise without getting traumatized. But I just wish they could be open to "seeing the light" sooner rather than later. And then there's the aspect where I fear the pain I may feel at "having to" watch them make really hurtful relational choices.



This is good insight. I read long ago that some of our "tough points" with our own kids is because it touches on something we experienced. I think it's natural to want our kids to not go through hurtful experiences in relationships. We hope to have some input so that they learn from us. I think some advice sinks in, but the hard part for you and your H is that the kids are hearing it from two almost opposing sources.

After a certain age, we don't have a lot of control. Maybe the best anyone can do is keep the door open for them at any time, if they want to talk, or ask for advice.

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« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2022, 02:46:09 PM »

Forgot to update!

DH talked with her on Friday after he and I talked through it. He opened with "just checking in on how you're doing with stuff from last Saturday", and she did end up saying she was surprised she hadn't apologized, she had meant to, and must have just spaced. So that was good. He mentioned something like how that was good, and how for him the bigger issue was that if she hadn't seen that what she did was wrong, then they'd be having a different conversation. He didn't touch on "I just want you to see how this has impacted the trust we have" which, like LnL mentioned, is probably the "light touch"/"don't hammer on it" approach. So he and I are relieved that she did seem to be sorry. From what he told me, she did mention again that she knew she could've gotten away with it -- i.e. she completely could have just lied and moved on, and we wouldn't have known. So there is that part where she is consciously choosing to come clean/be honest. That does rebuild trust.

I think there was more I was going to update but I forgot... will post again if I remember.
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« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2022, 08:25:14 PM »

What did you say when she commented about feeling like a lifer?

I can't remember exactly. Most of the time I am pointing out how she is learning things that took me decades to figure out. Her mom goes straight for catastrophe and I lean toward atta girl. She really is a remarkable young woman. I think she feels that if I figured things out (my ex and her first BF with PD traits had a lot in common, including alcoholism), she can too, although she thinks her dad is a dweeb haha. Just you wait SD28! Dweebs make great best friends and partners  Smiling (click to insert in post)

You and your H do a miraculous job tip toeing around weird nuanced nuttery.

There may come a time when you feel the need to tip toe less.

A few years ago I told SD28 she could have a graduation party after she earned her doctorate. It was a big deal and I wanted her to feel she could have classmates over. It turned into a thing about her mom and I said, "You're welcome to have a party here for classmates. Your mom is another story. She openly insults me and your dad. Sorry."

It became less about making SD28 feel comfortable and more about modeling boundaries for people like her mom.

Her sister is another story  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

Still working on that chapter.



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