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Author Topic: How to Explain to In-Laws?  (Read 509 times)
LifewithEase
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« on: December 02, 2022, 04:14:19 PM »

Hi all,

My in-laws and our close mutual friends sense there is something different about my high functioning uBPDw. Yet, most are completely oblivious to what happens inside the home.

My uBPDw keeps our kids and family isolated more than most in our community. We have no close peer couple friends. She is fiercely private, has impeccable manners, polite interaction with others. She is highly successfully in her prestigious executive job, yet for the +6 years has worked from home (again, not having to deal with people or form close relationships the bulk of the work week).

All of this hides what happens at home and her BPD behavior towards me.

Without explicitly stating BPD, what do I say, share or summarize to her in-laws and our close friends in order to clue in the behaviors and context?

I want to respect her / our privacy but I no longer want the kids and me be alone in this subtle chaos.

Suggestions?
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LifewithEase
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2022, 07:51:14 PM »

Lots of readers... any feedback on how this post could be better, garner some discussion?

What I have been sharing, even before I knew BPD was a thing, was to talk in generalities about anxiety.

For example, many of our neighbors have invited us over or to join them dozens of times. My wife declines every time. I stopped lying for her and just say my wife doesn't want to join us. I go alone and enjoy myself. And as we have become closer and they ask more questions I just respectfully say anxiety sometimes gets in the way.

We family I say anger and dysregulation get in the way.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2022, 04:14:26 AM »

By In -laws, do you mean your parents, or her parents?
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Notwendy
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2022, 06:30:12 AM »

Your wife's mental illness is a private manner. You don't need to disclose it to friends or family, but you could ( and it can help ) discuss this with a counselor or other professional for support. In my own family growing up, we didn't discuss BPD mother. I think that went to an extreme but I am selective about who may need to know.

My parents did have some mutual couple friends but my BPD mother tended to back out of social situations at the last minute. I don't know what my father told friends but I know he didn't disclose anything about BPD mother. I think they just made something up.

For me, a lot of people don't need to know. If she can hold it together socially, then there could be no need. I do disclose it when necessary- to protect a child or an elderly person, or with my mother's home heath care team ( she's elderly and has assistance at home).

If it's just social, I'd leave it alone. It's not their business. I am sure it feels awkward for you but they don't need to really know. You and the kids can do things together. On weekends, it was always us kids and Dad. BPD mother stayed home, and we had no idea why, but- it was more fun being just us and Dad. If it was us all together, then the focus was on BPD mother, and we were all walking on eggshells with her.

They will probably figure it out on their own. I have known a few dads whose kids were friends with my kids and whenever we were out doing kid's stuff- at the park, school functions, etc, it was dad only and mother was not there. I could tell the dads would feel uncomfortable sometimes as their wives' absence was obvious.

But I assumed there was more to why the mothers didn't show up but I didn't want to ask. I didn't really need to know. One Dad eventually divorced. Another's wife suffered from severe depression. Truly, all I thought for these families was empathy and also for the kids to have a good time together. Your friends don't need to know it all. They will sense it and sense your discomfort, but friends will give you some grace in this. It could be that you are more uncomfortable about the situation than your friends are.

However, if your silence is hiding abuse at home, then it's important to protect the children and disclose this info to appropriate professionals.

« Last Edit: December 06, 2022, 06:37:04 AM by Notwendy » Logged
hurtingbad

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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2022, 01:18:25 PM »

Hi,
I, too, wonder at times how to explain my/our situation to my in-laws, but only because there are times when I don't think I can keep on doing this on my own.  I'm sorry I can't help to answer your question, because I am also looking for that answer  Smiling (click to insert in post)

I, nor my uBPDh, have any friends anymore, so it's not a social issue for me.  It's because I don't have anyone to talk to about any of this and sometimes need someone.  (other than all of you fine folks! and one long time friend in another state I don't want to dump on, even though she says that's what she's there for).  Of course, our adult son is acutely aware, but I don't feel it's right to bring him to my/our marital issues, even though I know he would understand.  (He also has some of the same issues, but his wife is able to talk to him about it and he is working on it.)   Love it! (click to insert in post)

My in-laws live next door.  They know their son has anger issues, drinks, etc, but I know they have no idea the extent of our "behind closed doors" issues, and sometimes I'd just like to be able to talk to them/someone about it. 

These issues come from my MIL's side, as she has similar things going on as my h, and there is diagnosed mental illness on her side of the family.  My in-laws come for dinner every Sunday, and it's really weird for me to notice that my MIL and H say things and act very similarly, although neither of them notice it.  Just this past weekend, the four of us were just talking and listening to music.  My MIL says, "I really like this song," and at the same time, apparently all of us except her, heard some kind of animal noise, so my h turned down the volume on the radio to listen for it again.  My MIL says to my h (her son), "You turned that down because I like that song.  You always hated me."  WHAT??!!  My h doesn't understand where that comes from, and questions why she's always saying things like that, and I just think...how can you not see that you say/do exactly the same things with me?? 

So...I know at least my FIL would understand if I were able to talk to him about some things, but I don't know how to bring it up.  There's also the feeling I have (even talking here) that I am somehow betraying my h's trust by talking about him.  I wish I could talk to him, but there is no talking to him (SET or otherwise) while he's in a mood, and I don't like to bring this stuff up when he's not in a mood because it might make him be in a mood...as I'm sure you all are well aware!

Again, sorry I can't help, but will be looking to see if anyone else can Smiling (click to insert in post)
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SaltyDawg
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2022, 07:14:38 PM »

I concur with seeking therapy, or you could continue to vent here like you just did.
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FirstSteps
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2022, 03:56:32 PM »

I think your response is great.  If anything, I would minimize it even more.  It's about letting her take responsibility, not you, for her behavior.  I've learned to just shrug and ignore the question and try to move on.

Of course, this doesn't happen too often as I'm only now starting to rebuild my independent social life.  And I can see it would be a challenge with family or friends who push.  But I just don't think there's a good answer that doesn't sell her out a bit - which I don't want to do either.
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LifewithEase
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2022, 05:52:51 PM »

Good to hear other perspectives.

I work with my T weekly including troubleshooting practical areas. A priority over navigating my uBPDw issues with anyone is focusing on my own social life and relationships.

When you're a family man, oriented towards your kids, live in the suburbs, long work hours and find strong connections within your town/community (of mainly families) most (not all) friendships revolve around families and kids. With that social interaction usually includes the spouse and/or kids.


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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2022, 02:36:52 PM »

I work with my T weekly including troubleshooting practical areas. A priority over navigating my uBPDw issues with anyone is focusing on my own social life and relationships.

When you're a family man, oriented towards your kids, live in the suburbs, long work hours and find strong connections within your town/community (of mainly families) most (not all) friendships revolve around families and kids. With that social interaction usually includes the spouse and/or kids.
I too am a family man, also oriented toward the children.  Unlike you, l live in a rural area, used to work extreme hours, but I am now medically retired.  Our town/community is extremely family oriented and revolves around the children.  Almost all social interaction includes the spouse and kids.  That makes navigation of the borderline personality exceptionally difficult when she is difficult.  

We have 4 T's [her individual, my individual, couple's, and now family - formerly son's individual] to deal with all of this drama, we are finally making progress after my wife has finally become partially self-aware.  There are still set-backs, but there is positive progress in the right direction even with setbacks [she punched me today but realized it as soon as she unconsciously did that after getting upset at herself, I was simply in the way trying to help her - she was never able to do that before], we are moving forward in a good direction overall and is becoming less difficult.  This is ultra-rare, and is not the norm.

My wife changed, only because [this was only a few weeks ago], where she had to explain her actions to our 16yo daughter, when I accidentally misdirected a text intended for my individual T to her which laid bare by wife's issues including the six suicide threats, physical abuse, verbal/emotional abuse, etc.  This explaining caused my wife to become self-aware and has she has actively made efforts to contain her more obvious, and more severe symptoms as I know that her parents would not, and could not accept this kind of knowledge after our daughter called my wife a 'monster'.  Through the help of her T's my wife has been able to make a net positive progress in this area in recent weeks.

As a result of this, I no longer think there will be a 'need' to tell the in-laws.  If it happens, it will be on my wife's terms, not mine.
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2022, 03:57:10 PM »

Yes, it can feel awkward being the "single" married spouse at the family events but you likely aren't the only one. There are a number of reasons why only one spouse is there most of the time that don't mean mental illness or something wrong in the marriage. Maybe long or irregular working hours or something like that. Maybe the dad does activities with one child while the wife takes the other child to another activity.

It's possible you feel more awkward than other people are even thinking. People don't want or need to know know such personal business. If it's a group thing with families and kids, just go and let the kids have fun and you can visit with the parents too.
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2022, 12:17:49 AM »

Why not look into men's groups at local churches?
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LifewithEase
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2022, 09:06:45 AM »

Good discussion.

I guess the focus of my original post was about feeling seen (I hate that term). Maybe better said - when dealing with BPD relationship it is such a daily solo sport; feeling alone with the predictably unpredictable cycles; needing validation that subtle craziness is not my creation. Then you show up to your in-laws and my uBPDw gets a free pass. The in-laws have no idea what chaos, limits, and burdens she creates.

Maybe this is one reason I come to this board more than expected or want to vent.

I do have a great cluster of people I go to in addition to my individual T to talk "BPD," they just are not part of the extended family circle.

Social - I actually am the guy who organizes and initiates (with and without the kids) and proactively bringing that back with the boundary building. 
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Couscous
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2022, 11:50:26 AM »

Excerpt
…needing validation that subtle craziness is not my creation.  Then you show up to your in-laws and my uBPDw gets a free pass. The in-laws have no idea what chaos, limits, and burdens she creates.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unless she’s the family scapegoat you will never get any validation from them.

Have you observed how her parents treat each other? Abusive behavior is usually learned from one’s parents/caregivers, so if one of her parents treats the other poorly then that would be a way for you to validate your reality. If they have a healthy relationship and are affectionate and loving towards each other, then you could try to find out if she was bullied in school or by her siblings. That would be another clue that it’s she who has the problem.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2022, 12:23:26 PM by Couscous » Logged
Notwendy
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2022, 06:09:33 AM »


Then you show up to your in-laws and my uBPDw gets a free pass. The in-laws have no idea what chaos, limits, and burdens she creates.

Oh yes, they do. They knew her first. There are some things that may be going on that they behave like they don't.

Denial and secrecy as a family pattern. We all had to pretend there was nothing wrong with my BPD mother. Her FOO does that too. It's like the emperor has no clothes. We were not allowed to say anything about her.

They are her parents. Parents want to think the best of their child and want the best for them. They hope that your love and care are the solution for her- even though this isn't something anyone can "fix"- they are her parents and it's their hope.

We (kids) often wondered if my mother's family had a clue as they didn't act like they did. But sometimes it seemed her relatives were walking on eggshells around her too. They will praise her for even the slightest things. While we tend to focus on the BPD behaviors, other family members can adopt co-dependent and enabling behaviors as family patterns as well.

Families function as a unit. The "rule" may be to rally around your wife and protect her and maintain all is "normal". You can not seek validation from her family- it's breaking the family "rule".
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2022, 12:21:59 PM »

Excerpt
It's like the emperor has no clothes.

I agree that it’s like the emperor has no clothes, but it’s the normally one of the parents who is the emperor, and the other is the chief enabler.

If she’s high-functioning then her parents’ denial will be even deeper — especially if she is the Golden Child. If she has siblings they will also keep their mouths shut about her because they are all engaged in something known as the Parental Protection Racket. The shame her parents will feel if they are seen as defective parents must be protected against at all costs, and the entire family will keep the charade going that all is well in the family in order to protect the parents.

If you say anything then you will become the scapegoat so fast it will make your head spin, and you will get the opposite kind of validation you are seeking. You will be seen as the problem, and not your wife.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2022, 12:41:34 PM by Couscous » Logged
LifewithEase
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« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2022, 09:18:50 AM »

My fear:

"If you say anything then you will become the scapegoat so fast it will make your head spin, and you will get the opposite kind of validation you are seeking. You will be seen as the problem, and not your wife."

So I live with it solo and the BPD is not a real variable in our marital struggles.

I agree that it’s like the emperor has no clothes, but it’s the normally one of the parents who is the emperor, and the other is the chief enabler.

If she’s high-functioning then her parents’ denial will be even deeper — especially if she is the Golden Child. If she has siblings they will also keep their mouths shut about her because they are all engaged in something known as the Parental Protection Racket. The shame her parents will feel if they are seen as defective parents must be protected against at all costs, and the entire family will keep the charade going that all is well in the family in order to protect the parents.

If you say anything then you will become the scapegoat so fast it will make your head spin, and you will get the opposite kind of validation you are seeking. You will be seen as the problem, and not your wife.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2022, 12:40:37 PM »

My fear:

"If you say anything then you will become the scapegoat so fast it will make your head spin, and you will get the opposite kind of validation you are seeking. You will be seen as the problem, and not your wife."

So I live with it solo and the BPD is not a real variable in our marital struggles.


You can reach out for support to those who you feel are safe and not connected to your wife or her family. For me, it's been counseling that is the most supportive. One benefit of a counselor is that they are objective, and they also will be honest with you. Friends will take your side. People connected to your wife will take her side. I think the benefit of a counselor is that it's support but also guidance for your own personal growth. You aren't isolated with your feelings and you can trust that what you say will be confidential. Don't go it alone- but seek constructive support.

I don't consider anyone who has a connection with my mother to be a safe person to confide in. One other reason is that it puts them in a difficult situation. There can't be two realities- there's how she sees things and what she tells them and then, there's mine. They may not want to choose between the two of you. Especially your wife's parents- they are invested in her. Their connection to her is longer than the connection you have.

It was an odd situation with my father. He knew I knew the truth that my mother has BPD. But if I were to say it, he'd get angry at me. He always presented her to others in a complimentary light. For her, this is a requirement of any connection to her. To not go along with this breaks a big family rule. That is my choice, go along with this or not be acceptable to my parents. That is still the situation with my mother. She's elderly now and has assistance, however if any of her home health workers say anything that insinuates she may have some kind of issue, they are dismissed. She won't tolerate that. Those who are more savvy are able to work around it and address her needs without saying anything to her.

If this is the condition for keeping your marriage and you want to do that, it may be that you need to do this, if you so choose. But even if you do, don't go it alone. Seek out help and support from a counselor.
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« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2022, 07:27:56 PM »

Thanks NotWendy

Spot on. I need to separate my need to be "seen" and be supported so I don't feel alone in this.

I have an amazing T. I have a cluster of friends and family who I've confide in. Actually, recently one long old friend opened up to me about her similar experience with NPD. A friend who recently divorced has a xuBPDw.  So lots of support.

Your last point is what I follow, compartmentalize when necessary.
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2022, 05:27:46 AM »

I think that may be part of the decision to co-exist together, unless a person decides to not do it at all. It's good that you have support and a reality check to validate your own perceptions.

It's important to not validate the invalid. But trying to convince someone that they have a problem when this is not something possible - to try to change someone's thinking- may not be productive. Still, you hold on to your own reality.
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2022, 11:53:02 AM »

I don't consider anyone who has a connection with my mother to be a safe person to confide in. One other reason is that it puts them in a difficult situation. There can't be two realities- there's how she sees things and what she tells them and then, there's mine. They may not want to choose between the two of you. Especially your wife's parents- they are invested in her. Their connection to her is longer than the connection you have.

It was an odd situation with my father. He knew I knew the truth that my mother has BPD. But if I were to say it, he'd get angry at me. He always presented her to others in a complimentary light. For her, this is a requirement of any connection to her. To not go along with this breaks a big family rule. That is my choice, go along with this or not be acceptable to my parents. That is still the situation with my mother. She's elderly now and has assistance, however if any of her home health workers say anything that insinuates she may have some kind of issue, they are dismissed. She won't tolerate that. Those who are more savvy are able to work around it and address her needs without saying anything to her.

If this is the condition for keeping your marriage and you want to do that, it may be that you need to do this, if you so choose. But even if you do, don't go it alone. Seek out help and support from a counselor.

Very interesting, NotWendy, I would like to share a profound observation of mine and would like for you to contrast and compare it against your situation and comment on how I handled it as you have been a source of inspiration for me.

I had a bit of a breakthrough with my daughter last night, while my uBPDw was out of the house. 

In my daughter's eyes, it would seem that her apparent perception of me, her dad, has gone from persecutor [who jailed her for her dAN in an institution for several months, three years ago] to her rescuer from her borderline mother.  It was a very odd conversation to say the least, but a very much needed two-hour+ conversation with a very deep dive in the surreal twilight zone of her mind since she refuses to go to therapy.  Because I had previously imprisoned her for her eating disorder, she will avoid therapists at all costs because they all 'have their own mental health issues' which I validated as true as that is my perception as well -- so she approached me last night on a multitude of questions best suited for a therapeutic setting.  She has been reflecting and discerning about her loss of control over her eating and is now at the 'ideal weight' and where her mental control has transferred to. 

My daughter was conflicted on trying to identify the comorbidities of her AN, and how it might affect her life's journey and doesn't want to receive any additional diagnosis as she want to appear as a 'normal' in the lens of society.

My daughter was concerned that she might be a psychopath even though she knew that was unlikely and compared herself to the Unabomber since she is a [introverted] 'loaner' - she was being teased at school - they can be so cruel there.  Her cousin had similar feelings of being a psychopath for different reasons, as her mother was killed by her father; however, I reassured [validated] her that she was not and asked her compare herself to my step-brother [my daughter's cousin's father], who is a convicted murderer and suspected serial killer and is likely an undiagnosed sociopath [a step down from psychopath] and which was validated in the 3rd person by Psychology Today, People Magazine, and other publications, and I listed many of the reasons why that was impossible.  She also indicated that she has read about Autism and it indicated that it really resonates with her and she acknowledges that if she is she would be at the extreme upper end of the spectrum as ultra-high-functioning [she is valedictorian, and has the highest test scores in her school, and will graduate high school in two year's time with a college degree, and this is no BS], I did validate her on this as well, and encouraged her to consider seeing a Therapist -- she declined, but I did give her a link to a German website which offers free to the public testing with the standard disclaimer that it is not a diagnosis tool.  I also tried to point her in the direction of OCPD [not OCD] as she is textbook 8/8 on those symptoms, and is the least disruptive of the PD's unlike BPD.  I am glad she is aware of possible comorbidities and that she is taking proactive steps towards mitigating them albeit in an extremely unconventional manner.  However, I am saddened that she does not want to seek additional counseling for them; however, I will gently bring that up at every opportunity to do so, as will my uBPDw for differing motivations as we have just connected at this level of mutual empathy. 

My daughter now knows that 'I have her back' and has entrusted me with a lot of new knowledge as of last night - a complete 180 from being her persecutor on a few short years ago.  My daughter also knows that she has that 'free pass' when it comes to dealing with my wife and also has respect the process as she is acutely aware that her mom and I are actively seeking help, even though it is not specifically for BPD, but the issues surrounding borderline-like behavior.  As of a few weeks ago, my daughter has seen how I too am struggling with her mother and we have formed a bond on the premise of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' -- I have to remind my daughter that my wife, her mother, is actively seeking out therapy to make things better and we both have seen some of the progress which is now alleviating her full parentification, and I am once again becoming the parent in her eyes. 

So, if my daughter ever develops BPD [I hope and pray not, she presently assesses lowest of all four of us in Randi's assessment in her book, a 4/30, not really a concern at this time] ever gets into a situation where LifeWithEase describes where her potential future romantic partner and her are in 'conflict', I will use the knowledge I have learned here and a multitude of other sources with DBT 'wise-mind' discernment and attempt to guide both my daughter and whomever she chooses as her future partner to a place of mutual understanding and respect in order to attempt to diffuse any potential conflict.  A parent will almost always choose the side of their child, and whomever is in conflict with the child may receive the wrath of that parent, especially, if they don't think anything is wrong and are uneducated in the ways of mental-health.  I will try not to be 'that parent' and use wise-mind; however, if I am forced to choose, it will be for the wellbeing of my child and not their suitor.  LifeWithEase try and look at it from this sympathetic point of view, as to why the 'free pass' would and does occur for the child of the in-laws.

NotWendy, you said "It was an odd situation with my father. He knew I knew the truth that my mother has BPD. But if I were to say it, he'd get angry at me. He always presented her to others in a complimentary light. For her, this is a requirement of any connection to her. To not go along with this breaks a big family rule. That is my choice, go along with this or not be acceptable to my parents.".  I feel exactly what you are saying from the father's perspective at this moment.  I know the 'truth' about my wife.  However, I am not angry at my wife, nor am I angry at my daughter as I have unconditional compassion and love for both.  I also try to present my wife in a complimentary light to others, as it is a requirement to 'keep the peace.'  My daughter understands this about my wife; and has chosen to remain partially parentified to be compliant for this reason, and also chosen to do the same for me; however, she is counting the days until she can leave the situation [to go to college on a different continent separated by a mighty ocean], until then she plans on keeping the peace in this manner. My daughter has already used the 'seed' tool to communicate this with my wife who is already processing the information, and is surprisingly calm about it -- as it is 2-1/2 years away.

The topic of sexuality also came up, and my daughter considers herself not interested, or asexual -- while I didn't express it to her, I thought to myself, this is a 'good thing' considering the circumstances.  However, I did have an introductory conversation on her increased risk of codependency in the context where I am entrapped by it -- and she sees that.  I had this conversation becuase if that special someone were to come along and is totally unexpected -- as my wife has already communicated that she was the same way when she was my daughter's age in this aspect and she met me -- I can only imagine the thoughts racing through my daughter's head on that one which occurred the day before we had this conversation last night.

We talked about other issues too; however, these are the key points that are relevant to this conversation thread.  NotWendy or LifeWithEase, is there anything I might have done differently if you guys were in my shoes?  I don't want to mess this up any more than [her mother and] I  already have for my daughter within the current 'no therapy' clause that my daughter has imposed.  Of course, I will be talking at length tomorrow with my individual T as I can't with the couple's T [I was asked not to let my wife know about certain specifics of this conversation]; however, as you guys have been there, I am looking for additional things I can do to help minimize/reverse the damaged caused by the borderline relationship with my wife?
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Notwendy
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« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2022, 03:19:39 PM »



In my daughter's eyes, it would seem that her apparent perception of me, her dad, has gone from persecutor [who jailed her for her dAN in an institution for several months, three years ago] to her rescuer from her borderline mother.  It was a very odd conversation to say the least, but a very much needed two-hour+ conversation with a very deep dive in the surreal twilight zone of her mind since she refuses to go to therapy. 


A parent will almost always choose the side of their child, and whomever is in conflict with the child may receive the wrath of that parent, especially, if they don't think anything is wrong and are uneducated in the ways of mental-health.  I will try not to be 'that parent' and use wise-mind; however, if I am forced to choose, it will be for the wellbeing of my child and not their suitor. 

NotWendy, you said "It was an odd situation with my father. He knew I knew the truth that my mother has BPD. But if I were to say it, he'd get My daughter understands this about my wife; and has chosen to remain partially parentified to be compliant for this reason, and also chosen to do the same for me; however, she is counting the days until she can leave the situation [to go to college on a different continent separated by a mighty ocean], until then she plans on keeping the peace in this manner. .

The topic of sexuality also came up, and my daughter considers herself not interested, or asexual -- while I didn't express it to her, I thought to myself, this is a 'good thing' considering the circumstances. 

Thanks, and I am happy to be of assistance. First of all, you are way ahead of where I was by having these talks with your D, listening to her and validating her. My father did this, but the topic of my mother was off the table. I recall the first time a boy broke up with me, I was upset,  and he was very empathetic and that meant a lot. It was teen puppy love but a big deal at the time to a teen age girl.

We didn't have all these names for how teens feel and identify and I am not sure it's a good thing to label all of them. From what I have heard from others, they were aware of their attractions, did they have crushes on boys or girls, so I think that's something they can identify. But asexuality- true or not, may also be a form of self effacement and deprivation like anorexia is. Teens need to be at a certain weight to go through a normal puberty and puberty signals sexual feelings. I was normal weight. I can understand why your D may feel insecure about her size.  BPD mother was constantly on a diet to keep her trim figure and would tell me I was too big. I was actually never big. It was BPD mother's projection of her own eating disorder. I didn't develop AN but didn't feel comfortable with my own size. I don't worry now about being too big- I know it wasn't true.

Like many teens, I had crushes, on teen idols, and boys at school. I knew I liked boys but didn't want a boyfriend until later. Girls I knew were way ahead of me when it came to dating. I thought something was wrong with me that I didn't want a boyfriend like my friends did. I didn't think any boys would like me. I think a lot of this was due to BPD mother's criticism.

I think it's a bit inappropriate to say too much about a daughter's appearance, but I do think a girl needs to know her Dad loves her unconditionally, that she's loved no matter what she looks like. I think you did the right thing by hospitalizing her to save her life. But she has to have insecurities and issues about her body. But back to the "asexual" label. I may have used that label if it were a choice because I wasn't ready for that kind of attention and it could be a way to avoid it. As you said though, one doesn't know when someone might come along and catch your D's attention and it eventually happened with me.

I also don't think one needs to label her early dating experiences. Teens are insecure. I think I was co-dependent in dating due to my own insecurities and wanting people to like me. But the relationships were not toxic. We were young and it was obvious these relationships were not going to lead to marriage. Of course if the relationship is abusive, you can't stand back but most teen relationships are more like learning and experimenting.

I also had a similar goal as your D- go to college a distance a way. I still found that I had insecurities in relationships. I chose to go to student counseling center on my own. Your D may reject your suggestions now, as teens want some control over their own ideas, and privacy too. However, she may choose to go to counseling on her own at college. She seems to be focused and self directed. Mostly she needs to have your unconditional love.
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SaltyDawg
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« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2022, 06:07:58 AM »

First of all, you are way ahead of where I was by having these talks with your D, listening to her and validating her.   Thank you, that was my intent.  Do you think you could have a talk, this late in his life, with your dad, if you mom was out of earshot?

From what I have heard from others, they were aware of their attractions, did they have crushes on boys or girls, so I think that's something they can identify. But asexuality- true or not, may also be a form of self effacement and deprivation like anorexia is.
My D has had one crush so far, and it was with a boy with electric blue/pink hair, and that was a few years ago.  I think that part is somewhat normal.  The bit on asexual part is that she knows she does not want to be in a relationship like mine and her moms.  I am hopeful that this will change with time, but there will be no pressure from me [I can't control mom, but I will suggest].

Teens need to be at a certain weight to go through a normal puberty and puberty signals sexual feelings. I was normal weight. I can understand why your D may feel insecure about her size.  BPD mother was constantly on a diet to keep her trim figure and would tell me I was too big. I was actually never big. It was BPD mother's projection of her own eating disorder. I didn't develop AN but didn't feel comfortable with my own size. I don't worry now about being too big- I know it wasn't true.
My D loves to be 'in control', and she controls everything to point of being OCPD.  She is now at her ideal weight, she briefly met what is considered to be the lethal range of being underweight [Nazi concentration camp thin] the last time I came back from sea.  Regarding her weight, she is in a good place right now, and her body is finally starting to be normal [mensus].  Her mother is overweight, and I, her dad, am obese on the opposite end of the spectrum, which is actually a safer place to be than where she was a few years ago.

Like many teens, I had crushes, on teen idols, and boys at school. I knew I liked boys but didn't want a boyfriend until later. Girls I knew were way ahead of me when it came to dating. I thought something was wrong with me that I didn't want a boyfriend like my friends did. I didn't think any boys would like me. I think a lot of this was due to BPD mother's criticism.
My D sees my relationship with my wife as toxic - and it is with her rages, and wants nothing to do with it, especially the arguments which by borderline standards are unhealthy in nature.  She also sees my wife complain about work relationships, and relationships at church too, so she has chosen to be a loner for that reason -- she hates conflict, just like I do.  However, from a previous conversation we've had she does prefer boys over other pronouns.

I think it's a bit inappropriate to say too much about a daughter's appearance, but I do think a girl needs to know her Dad loves her unconditionally, that she's loved no matter what she looks like. I think you did the right thing by hospitalizing her to save her life. But she has to have insecurities and issues about her body. But back to the "asexual" label. I may have used that label if it were a choice because I wasn't ready for that kind of attention and it could be a way to avoid it. As you said though, one doesn't know when someone might come along and catch your D's attention and it eventually happened with me.
I agree with you on that unless she specifically asks me [even though this should be done by mom, but mom is too judgmental, so she felt comfortable enough to ask me].  The only kind of comments I ever volunteer if I am If she wears a new outfit, like a conservative Christmas dress, I compliment her on that, especially as she has OCPD miserly tendencies of being an absolute minimalist [all of her cloths can fit in one medium size piece of luggage and reject 90%+ of what mom buys for her].  However anything dealing with her weight and appearance that I have said to her about to her was in direct response to her questioning me about it -- I never volunteer that kind of information, nor am I judgmental on it, just complimentary.  My daughter does not want to be seen in a sexual kind of way by her peers boys, girls, or other pronouned individuals -- I learned of a new pronoun yesterday -- furries, those who relate with animals such as fox, cat, or something else -- that part of the conversation was an eye opener - jeez.  She doesn't want to have a cleavage like her mom, and I did talk to her about the correlation of weight [at her request] and boob size [which did make me somewhat uncomfortable], so she will control her weight to be in the middle of the normal curve.  My wife is naturally well endowed in that area, and she doesn't want that.

I also don't think one needs to label her early dating experiences. Teens are insecure. I think I was co-dependent in dating due to my own insecurities and wanting people to like me. But the relationships were not toxic. We were young and it was obvious these relationships were not going to lead to marriage. Of course if the relationship is abusive, you can't stand back but most teen relationships are more like learning and experimenting.
Agreed, she has expressed no interest in dating.  However, if she does, I will do another Mr. Mom version birds and bees limited to a one sentence reminder of 'don't let him in your pants' reminder, which I did when she turned 10, and the school did a good job at too in her sex ed class -- I don't think I have anything to worry about in that area, a.t.m.

I also had a similar goal as your D- go to college a distance a way. I still found that I had insecurities in relationships. I chose to go to student counseling center on my own. Your D may reject your suggestions now, as teens want some control over their own ideas, and privacy too. However, she may choose to go to counseling on her own at college. She seems to be focused and self directed. Mostly she needs to have your unconditional love.
Not to keen on the distance thing, but I understand it fully.  She is exceptionally obsession level focused and exceptionally self-directed - OCPD level (undiagnosed) which is much better than BPD (almost no symptoms or traits, so far) as she is so focused on being in control of her own destiny or whatever she does in live.  In any event, she does have my unconditional love.

Thanks for listening, and thanks for your advise.  If you have anything to add, please do, as I want to be there for her just enough, but not too much as she will be out of the nest before my wife and I know it.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2022, 07:00:27 AM »

It's hard to see a child struggle and as much as you wish your own marital issues were not an influence, parents inevitably have an influence on their children. I think we learn as much ( possibly more) from observing them as we do from what they say. So, one way I have tried to "do better" with my own children is to work on myself to change any dysfunctional behaviors that I learned growing up and so change what I role model. So actually your own self work can have an impact on your D.

Part of being a teen is differentiating from parents- finding out who they are as their own selves. They don't really know who they are yet but they know they are "not my parent". I also didn't want to be like my mother but being the opposite of one extreme is still disordered. So while I didn't want to behave like my mother, I learned co-dependent behaviors which seemed to be opposite to hers. Eventually we have to seek a more middle ground but a first tendency is for a teen to be "not my parents".

It appears your teen is doing this to some degree. Home life feels out of control- so she has become very controlling in areas she can control- school achievement, food, her own relationships. But she's gone from one extreme ( you and your wife) to another extreme- and neither is desirable. You are correct in that - this is her path. I think at some point she may find that while these behaviors have served a function for her in your family ( they help her to feel safer and in control )- they may cause her to have other issues in her adult relationships. Then, it will be her task to seek out help for them. One thing I have role modeled for my own kids is that it's OK to seek out help if you need it.

While you have discussed her needing therapy-  another approach is that you role model that. You should not be sharing "why" with her. I don't do that. But my kids ( they are young adults)  know there were issues with my mother and that I have sought out help when I felt I need it.

Another thing I do is try to show them that self care is OK. This comes from having been co-dependent and not doing that and I don't want them to think that is OK. It's interesting that all of you have struggles with food and weight- and there are emotional aspects to that. Your D has done the opposite of you and your wife- but the opposite of one extreme is still problematic. Weight issues are hard to deal with- they are often the result of emotional stresses.

While the focus has been on your D's health, one idea, now that she's OK is for you to be OK too. Taking care of your own health is self care. While our culture focuses on appearance- size, weight - it's more about taking care of your own health and it could have an impact on your D to see you doing this. I shared how my mother's issues with food and dieting influenced me - there wasn't role modeling of what a healthy relationship with food and weight could be. You have an opportunity to do that for yourself and I think it will have an impression on her.

Where there was conflict over discussions with my father, even with BPD mother not hearing, happened in his elder years. He was not receptive to such discussions.

 I think you are also ahead of the situation by recognizing BPD and also your own part in the relationship. This information was not available to my parents early on in their marriage.

While it's understandable and commendable to do your best for your D, for your own sake, put some attention to your situation. This doesn't mean you have to leave it if you don't want to, but how can you find ways to care for your own self in it? I think that can have a larger influence on your D that one can see directly.














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SaltyDawg
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« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2022, 01:25:36 PM »

NotWendy,

Since we are going off topic, I have created a new thread in response:
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=354648
Family Mental Health Self-Care [attn: NotWendy] <== "How to Explain to InLaws"
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