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Author Topic: 5.09 | "FOG" - fear, obligation, guilt  (Read 49442 times)
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« on: October 19, 2008, 08:20:06 AM »

SELF-AWARE:  What it means to be in the "FOG"

In their 1997 book, Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You, authors Susan Forward, Ph.D. and Donna Frazier identify fear, obligation or guilt (termed “FOG”) as the tools of emotional manipulators.

Forward and Frazier have greatly helped families by pinpointing fear, obligation or guilt as the important transactional dynamics at play when we feel we are being controlled by others. Understanding this dynamic is the first step in learning how to manage our own feelings of being controlled or the compulsions to do things that are uncomfortable, undesirable, burdensome, or self-sacrificing.

Controlling or being controlled is a transaction. For us, an enabling reaction to the psychological defenses and dysfunctional coping of others - often people who are immature or suffering with addictions, depression, personality disorders, etc.

Read more about the transactional dynamics in this bpdfamily editorial: CLICK HERE

Controlling Styles

Punishers – let us know exactly what they want, and the consequences we’ll face if we don’t give it to them. They may express themselves aggressively or they may smolder in silence, but either way, the anger is always aimed directly at us. The closer the relationship, the higher the stakes – and the more vulnerable we are to punishers.

Self-punishers turn the threats inward threatening what the will do to themselves if they don’t get their way. High drama, hysteria and an air of crisis (precipitated by you) surround self-punishers, who are often excessively needy and dependent.

Sufferers are blamers and guilt-peddlers who make us figure out what they want, and always conclude that it is up to us to ensure they get it. Sufferers take the position that if they feel miserable, sick, unhappy, or are just plain unlucky, there’s only one solution: our giving them what they want – even if they haven’t told us what it is.

Tantalizers put us through a series of tests and hold out a promise of something wonderful if we’ll just give them their way. They encourage us and promise love or money or career advancement, and then make it clear that unless we behave, as they want us to, we don’t get the prize.
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2008, 09:20:07 AM »

According to Susan Forward in Emotional Blackmail, the heart of emotional blackmail is flawed reasoning.  The reasoning is illogical and there is a double standard.  “It is permissible for me to push your buttons to get my needs met, but if you try to do the same thing, I’ll make sure you will regret your selfishness.”  

Examples of F.O.G.

FEAR: Quote from: ohash, “I want so badly to cut him out of my life, but know that I would regret doing so... .”

OBLIGATION:   Quote from:  JerryKew, “I got caught up in the "game" of trying ever harder. If only I could do this or that, or change this or that, he would finally understand. I didn't realize I was trying to do all the work for us. My perception of things had grown so skewed and distorted over the years that I just couldn't see clearly anymore.”

GUILT: Quote from  CrazyNoMore, “By the time I was in high school, my home situation had pretty much isolated me, and even then, the very few invitations I would receive to attend a party, go roller skating, go see a movie, I felt obligated to decline because I didn't want to risk the fallout at home. The very few times I went, there was hell to pay later with either a raging inquisition or a never-ending list of chores that needed to be done "now that you've spent your time having fun."  
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2008, 02:32:30 PM »

I know the official definition of F.O.G. here on the board is fear, obligation and guilt.  And yet, all three of those things are good things in the right context.  I.E. - we fear doing something harmful to our family, we feel obligated to work on our relationships, we feel guilty if we have unfaithful thoughts or actually are unfaithful.  All of that is good.  

I think the definition of F.O.G. may even change for us at different stages of our relationship or depending upon the severity of the BPD's condition. 

For me, F.O.G. was when I thought I could somehow make our relationship into a healthy one if I said the right thing, did the right thing, responded the right way etc. etc. etc.  Then I realized how little power I actually had to "fix" things and it was liberating.  It made me feel like I was in the "bright sunlight" again so to speak.  It doesn't mean I don't care - doesn't mean I don't try to use the same consideration and kindnesses and even "customization" in my interactions with my husband as I would with every other person I have interactions with - just means I really don't want to go back to analyzing and agonizing over every interaction I have with him. 
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2008, 09:39:31 PM »

What is my FOG?  I fear the divorce process.  I fear the trashing that will I will get in my social life, the trashing that I will likely get at work and the trashing I will get with the kids.  I fear that I will have to change jobs and move out of state.  I fear that I will lose lots and she will stay in my life harassing me.  I fear letting go of my dream.

I struggle with a sense of obligation to take care of the kids and her before I take care of myself.  Guilt eats at me when I don’t take care of them before myself.  Guilt eats me up when I let myself down and put others first. 

This hero crap has really got to go.  Being pissed off helps.  It pisses me off that we would have a pretty nice life if she would just act half way normal. There is not a reason in the world that I should have to put up with this sort of crap. I am not wanting all that much.  The task ahead of me to let go of the anger and stay just as fed up.   But then again, the anger helps to burn off the FOG.

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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2008, 09:46:52 AM »

Excerpt
I fear the divorce process.  I fear the trashing that will I will get in my social life, the trashing that I will likely get at work and the trashing I will get with the kids.  I fear that I will have to change jobs and move out of state.  I fear that I will lose lots and she will stay in my life harassing me.  I fear letting go of my dream.

Ok, add all of those to my list too.  I couldn't agree more.  Sometimes it just seems easier to stay and work with it and try not to believe that all my hopes and dreams we had planned for the future can never be.  I really need to get out of this FOG and and try to remember the things I feel passionate about about do them again.  But that FOG sneaks up on you, sometimes in the middle of the night, like a thief, and you just hope and pray the sun can somehow break thru and burn it off.

I am so terrified that he will do something stupid again and our marriage will be damaged beyond repair . . .  My love for him will be damaged beyond repair.

PK
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2008, 10:11:17 AM »

I know the official definition of F.O.G. here on the board is fear, obligation and guilt.  And yet, all three of those things are good things in the right context.  I.E. - we fear doing something harmful to our family, we feel obligated to work on our relationships, we feel guilty if we have unfaithful thoughts or actually are unfaithful.  All of that is good.  

Her point is pretty much your point - that these are normal, often helpful, feelings - so we trust them.  And this can be debilitating if we can't recognize when we are caught in a cycle with our partner.
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2008, 04:10:10 PM »

Excerpt
Her point is pretty much your point - that these are normal, often helpful, feelings - so we trust them.  And this can be debilitating if we can't recognize when we are caught in a cycle with our partner.

Very interesting elaboration Skip - something so important for all of us to remember!
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2008, 01:37:25 PM »

For me it was fear - mostly of failure, of failing at a second marriage... .of failing to provide a stable father figure for my kids... .fear of being alone again... .and yes, some fear of his volatile behavior.

Obligation and guilt - mostly based around the same reasons above... .I had put so much work into this marriage, I felt obligated to see it through... .obligated to somehow take care of this man who could not seemingly do so for himself... .guilty that I couldn't hold it all together, guilty that my kids were hurt by all of it... .guilty for giving up on the marriage... .and him.

All of it is much more about us and our feelings than it is about the BPD in our lives, and only we can shine enough light to see through that FOG... .

See because if I could have seen that for me the light was choosing me and my kids first... .that by not choosing I was failing, failing them, failing myself... .turning and choosing a different perspective and seeing that by doing so I could see that light... .

This was really helpful

Excerpt
Change Your Response, Change Your Life

To change, we have to alter the way we respond. We need to act.

  • Understand what is happening? There are different levels of demands:

       The demand that is no big deal.

       The demand that involves important issues, and your integrity is on the line.

       The demand that involves a major life issues, and/or by giving in would be harmful to you or others.


  • Understand what you are thinking and feeling? What are your triggers, distortions?


  • When you make decisions based on criteria that are your own rather than the controllers, you have dealt a crippling blow to the control cycle. There are a number of ways to address controlling relationships.



https://bpdfamily.com/content/emotional-blackmail-fear-obligation-and-guilt-fog

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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2008, 03:57:50 PM »

I thought the term FOG was originated by Beverly Engel in her book "Emotional Blackmail." I used it in Stop Walking on Eggshells. When I see people use it, I like them to know that.Here is what I write about FOG in my new book, the Essential Family Guide to BPD." This i s from my files, so there is extra stuff you can ignore. Sorry, the formatting isn't all that great, either. Steering Clear of the FOG In chapter 8, Uncover What Keeps You Feeling Stuck, we discussed FOG (fear, obligation, and guilt) in the context of the relationship. FOG also comes up like little wisps of smoke during limit-setting conversations. If you don’t prepare for it, it can blur your vision and make it hard to see and remember what you want and need. The next few pages will show you how to prevent FOG from sabotaging your convictions about the limits you must set to make this relationship work (or make your living situation bearable). Fear of Losing the RelationshipThere are many different kinds of fears. Most of them can be approached using the Carnegie problem-solving methods described in chapter 7, page XX. The fear we will deal with here is fear of losing the relationship. Members of Welcome to Oz say that underneath the disorder, their loved one is a great person. Common adjectives members use to describe their BP include bright, funny, compassionate, loving, and beautiful. It’s very hard to accept that their loved one’s borderline behaviors aren’t isolated anomalies, but a central part of who he is. To keep themselves safe from their loved one’s erratic and often abusive behaviors, family members give in on issues they actually feel strongly about. The BP’s emotional blow-up acts as a punishment; the non-BP giving in to prevent the punishment acts as a powerful reward. Over time, non-BPs have let their limits slide so far they can no longer be seen with the naked eye. Psychotherapist Beverly Engel, a recognized expert in the field of relationships, explains how limits disappear. She says: Most of us begin a relationship thinking we have certain limits as to what we will and will not tolerate from a partner. But as the relationship progresses, we tend to move our boundaries back, tolerating more and more intrusion or going along with things we are really opposed to. . . . [Individuals] begin tolerating unacceptable and even abusive behavior, and then convince themselves that these behaviors are normal, acceptable, [and deserved].[5] Maura, like many non-BPs, is boxed in. She knows just what will happen if she makes any demands on her boyfriend, Fred. When she says she needs time alone or time with her friends, he says he’ll leave her. Not only leave her, but make her life miserable by spreading rumors and lies about her to their friends. Her family and friends tell her the relationship isn’t healthy and that Fred has problems. But she is terribly afraid of losing Fred and wishes that others could see what a wonderful person he is underneath it all. If she can just settle Fred down, get him not to make waves, things will be fine. Signs of abuse include dictating how others should live; isolating them from family and friends; controlling money or other resources; blaming those they mistreat for the mistreatment; being overly jealous and possessive; or pushing, grabbing, hitting, kicking, punching, or throwing objects. If this describes your family member, you may think that by remaining silent, you are “helping” this person or “saving” the relationship. This is untrue. Both of you need help immediately from experienced mental health professionals. Call someone who cares about you or a domestic violence hotline. Men and parents can be abused too. If you don’t seek help, the consequences could be tragic. Obligation and GuiltYeardley just knows that her borderline sister is going to ruin her wedding. “You have to ask your sister to be your maid of honor,” their mother insisted. Yeardley had wanted her best friend in that role, but she gave in to her mother’s wishes. It’s been like this her whole life—she always receives love and praise from her parents when she “does her duty” by her sister. Author Suzanne Robert writes about boundaries and families on her Web site about aging parents: suzanneroberts.net. She points out that we rarely consider setting boundaries with our families for two reasons: self-induced guilt (“He’s my family. I can’t say that.”) and the external fear of what people will think. Roberts believes that we have not only the right but also the responsibility to “allow our family members to be subject to the same criteria as anyone else on this planet,” even if we appear selfish. It is not selfish, she says, to take care of yourself. A person with no boundaries, who functions with knee-jerk reactions to every demand, is too tired, angry, and resentful to be kind and loving, she points out.Feelings of guilt and obligation are common when they set limits. Here are some examples: •   “She said my limits about having my own money meant I didn’t love her or take our marriage seriously.” •   “She said, ‘How can you do this to your own mother? What kind of a son are you?’” •   “She accused me of being like her terrible ex-husbands.”Fear, obligation, and guilt—or FOG, a term coined by Susan Forward in her excellent book Emotional Blackmail —is “penetrating, disorienting, and obscures everything but the pounding discomfort it produces.” Forward says pressure is so uncomfortable, we give in as quickly and as automatically as we would put our hands over our ears when a siren shrieks past.[6] Once the FOG button works, BPs will press it again and again. One WTO member summed up this dynamic beautifully: “When I try to set limits, my BP keeps at me until I give up, even if it takes hours. It is much easier to give in within the first thirty seconds.”Forward says that one of the most powerful techniques people can use to cut through the FOG is to say, “I CAN STAND IT” [caps in the original] repeatedly. This puts a new message into the conscious and unconscious mind. When thinking about taking steps to end the blackmail, breathe deeply and say, “I can stand it” at least ten times. The rewards are worth enduring someone getting upset. At a minimum, the rewards are increased self-confidence and a sense of mastery over life.[7] FOG, however, is just one aspect of what keeps people stuck in relationships. There are other reasons. In the book, I talk about these other reasons:•   unhealthy bonds forged by emotional abuse (Stockholm Syndrome)•   feelings of fear•   obligation, roles, and duty •   guilt mingled with shame •   low self-esteem •   the need to “rescue”
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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2009, 10:13:44 AM »

Great Workshop topic!

I think it's important to remember that most with BPD are not intentionally engaging in emotional blackmail.  Their brains work differently from the non and they actually believe that the non (or others) are hurting them... .that the non "should" do whatever or is responsible for whatever.  That's why trying to talk about the emotional blackmail won't work.  

If you are still with the partner or still in touch with the family member and you want to work through the Fear Obligation and Guilt, you may want to check out Lessons for members who are staying in their relationships.  If you are out of the relationship or in limited/no contact with the family member, but you are still being psychologically hammered by your own FOG, it's important to remember that you are doing this to yourself... . 

P.S. Beverly Engel's book was published after Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2009, 03:42:10 PM »

I'll give a personal example of obligation. My mother is uBPD. She became growingly abusive toward me in the last few years. Although I was providing her a great deal of support, I was clearly in the "bad" category in her black and white thinking, and she's treat me very disrespectfully, callously, and critically, coupled with some creepy stalkerish behavior. My line of thinking about this abuse went like this:

1. With anyone else, I'd set boundaries and refuse to be treated like this.

2. With my mother, if I set any boundaries or put a halt to any mistreatment, she will become enraged and/or rejecting.

3. If she's enraged, that's okay, I can take it, even though I won't like it.

4. However, if she becomes rejecting, she may cut me off.

5. If she cuts me off, I won't be able to support her anymore, and I am obligated to help her.

6. Therefore, I must accept the mistreatment, because otherwise, I may not be able to help her.

I took years of abuse not so much out of a hope that things could be better for us, but out of obligation to take care of her.

Among the resources that have helped me release this terrible and destructive sense of obligation (and fear and guilt) are the books Toxic Parents, Understanding the Borderline Mother, The Narcissitic Family, and Surviving the Borderline Parent. These are all geared toward adult children of dysfunctional families, as the titles make clear.

Also very helpful to me was an exercise my therapist did with me to get at the beliefs behind the feelings of fear, obligation, and guilt. Here's an example of how the exercise works, from an exchange between me and another member, lightanddark:

Does anyone struggle with the (in my case constant) fear that you'll be "busted" for bad behaviour? The result being subjected to a rage or sobbing accusations that you've done the wrong thing and how could you do this after all they've done for you. But the bad behaviour is, like, having your dad over for dinner and not telling momster (divorced), or not defending her when she's being "attacked" by dad. Or being caught talking about her to pretty much anyone, even when you're just venting after a fight or you've been hurt by her actions.

I'm a grown woman and I'm sick of being afraid I'll get in trouble for making the choices that feel right to me. I'm sick of coming up with "feasible" explanations in my head for almost every scenario in anticipation of the moment I get busted doing the "wrong" thing.

But then, how do I know when she's making a valid point? How do I know if my attempts at setting boundaries have become cold and selfish? How much am I meant to give, because she is my family?

I'm just always scared.

lightanddark,

Yes indeed, I know that feeling well. Your fear is the internal mother. I've experienced this as well.

Something that might help is Tools: US: Do not allow others to 'rent space' in your 'head'. Another thing that helped me was to get at the beliefs I was unconsciously holding that led me to the fear. For example in your post I read:

Excerpt
But then, how do I know when she's making a valid point? How do I know if my attempts at setting boundaries have become cold and selfish? How much am I meant to give, because she is my family?



If I break that down:

Excerpt
How do I know when she's making a valid point?

(My view and instincts are not valid. Hers outweigh mine.)

Excerpt
How do I know if my attempts at setting boundaries have become cold and selfish?

(Having my own point of view and making choices about my own life is cold and selfish.)

Excerpt
How much am I meant to give, because she is my family?

(She determines how much I am supposed to give. Family means sacrificing your autonomy.)

Once you identify the beliefs, you start to work on them, because they're not really that logical.


xoxox

B&W

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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2009, 03:11:49 AM »

My line of thinking about this abuse went like this:

1. With anyone else, I'd set boundaries and refuse to be treated like this.

2. With my mother, if I set any boundaries or put a halt to any mistreatment, she will become enraged and/or rejecting.

3. If she's enraged, that's okay, I can take it, even though I won't like it.

4. However, if she becomes rejecting, she may cut me off.

5. If she cuts me off, I won't be able to support her anymore, and I am obligated to help her.

6. Therefore, I must accept the mistreatment, because otherwise, I may not be able to help her.

Wow, blackandwhite - that breaks it down just about accurately for me with my uBPm, with the possible exception of #3. It's not "ok" that she becomes enraged; it just "IS" and as if millions of tiny fleas were zipping around my head, I begin swatting -- fighting back. Or trying to wave the smoke screen away, not to get clouded again by the craziness and confusion. I begin declaring my right to be treated respectfully, at least appreciated for all that I do. And as my blood pressure rises and my voice gets louder I FEAR I am making my uBPm "right" -- which in effect I am, because I have fallen into her trap.

I have told her many times that were she anyone but my mother, I would be GONE. It is OBLIGATION that keeps me stuck, as well as love. She is my mother; I believe that I love her.

She needs to regain some semblance of control, she uses me as the outlet for her rage, fear, hurt, crazies and pushes every button knowing full well that I will "blow" and then she can reel in all those crazy emotions and point the wagging finger of blame at me for upsetting her.

And despite my own anger, I am then filled with GUILT for not being able to control my reactions and behavior. Guilt because I know intellectually that I cannot change another person -- particularly one who does not recognize the reality of the situation -- and that the change must come from me. But the perpetual FOG keeps me from seeing clear, or rather steering clear and keeping my mouth shut.

I think it's important to remember that most with BPD are not intentionally engaging in emotional blackmail.  Their brains work differently from the non and they actually believe that the non (or others) are hurting them... .that the non "should" do whatever or is responsible for whatever.  That's why trying to talk about the emotional blackmail won't work.

I believe that my uBPm is in her own FOG, so to speak. Her own FEAR of life, abandonment, loneliness creates resentment in her for the OBLIGATION she feels to her family and to her own misguided needs; and she acts out because the world doesn't play by the script in her head. I'm at a loss to find a G for guilt, however. If it is true that they are unaware of the organic root of it all, then I suppose guilt is not possible for them. And that if there is any inkling it is far too uncomfortable for them to process and the entire scenario must play itself out again and again.
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2009, 11:55:57 PM »

Hi,

The way I handle FOG is to leave everything out of yr head - the so-called ":)on't rent any space out for those bad things in yr mind".

Anyway, it does not come easy but you have to condition yourself to do it.

Stimulus - Response Psychology - just don't react to those stimulus. Once you get used to it, it will disappear sooner or later.

In short, the expert says : be non-judgemental.

Peter   
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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2009, 12:22:01 PM »

The boundaries workshop is at https://bpdfamily.com/content/values-and-boundaries  
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2011, 10:45:47 AM »

FOG, eh?

For me, the FEAR of what could happen was in the forefront.  The what if's. The consequences of MY actions.

Fortunately, I learned in Nar-anon that I can't stop a train from derailing.  I had 2 choices, either jump off the track or die trying to stop said train.  My BPD/bipdd is always having suicidal thoughts and verbalizes them.

I've just said, "You're gonna do what you're gonna do.  Nothing I can do to stop you"

This always leads to the "you don't love me, you'd be happy if I die, yada yada.

OBLIGATION... .now that's the sticky wicky.  We are her parents.  She IS sick.  She can't seem to take care of HER.

Then there's the kids.  This obligation piece has gotten us stuck for 2 years now.  My dh is finally seeing he is no longer obliged to DO.  She is 26 almost 27 already.  this same piece had us stuck for our AS though we got over that one.

We got sick and tired of being sick and tired.

We're there again... .I can only DO so much.  Period.  It is what it is.

GUILT... .ya got me here.  :)NA is one of those things we cannot change.  In my case, I had no family history on my dad's side.  

Wish I did about 26 years ago.  I got it about 3 years ago.  Mental illness abounds.

That said, I would have been looking at things way differently many years ago.  s28 was dx'd adhd/odd when he was very young.  I think he's BPD too.  JMO.  He's got all the behaviours including addiction.  

Could I have done something sooner?  Could I have intercepted this?  Could i have forced treatment on them?  Should I have even had kids?  Oh the list could go on and on.

I harbor no guilt for my son's addiction.  I didn't cause it, can't control it and definately can't cure it.  

I'm over the DNA guilt too.  I know I didn't cause BPDd's illness, can't control it and definately can't cure it.

I live by a saying that frees me from guilt... .

WHEN WE KNOW BETTER, WE DO BETTER

I'm working on boundaries now.  My big one for BPDd is you do your part we're good.  You don't... you gotta go.

Fortunately, my son's addiction tought us all about boundaries.  I forgot to apply them to my daugher  ?

Love this acronym.  I'm all about acronyms.  

I use QTIP(quit taking it personally) when she rages at me.

I use KISS(keep it simple sister) when giving instructions to her.

I WILL use FOG to keep me on MY mission to regain MY serenity, sanity and peace.

I use JFT(just for today) I can do this.  Ok, sometimes it's JFM's.(moments).

So happy to have an outlet for this illness too.  Love thought provoking topics.

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« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2011, 12:06:46 AM »

When I read your analysis of Fear, Obligation, and Guilt it strikes me how strong these are for a parent of a child.  

Excerpt
I live by a saying that frees me from guilt... .

WHEN WE KNOW BETTER, WE DO BETTER

Can you talk about that a little more? What does this saying mean to you? What goes on in your head when you say it, and how does it help you ease the guilt?

I also had the thought that the opposite of FOG in some ways is radical acceptance.

Excerpt
Radical acceptance was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD. from the University of Washington (see article) and is based on the ancient Zen philosophy that each moment is complete by itself, and that the world is perfect as it is. Zen focuses on acceptance, validation, and tolerance instead of change.  Mindfulness is “allowing” experiences rather than suppressing or avoiding them. It is the intentional process of observing, describing, and participating in reality non-judgmentally, in the moment, and with effectiveness. Ethereal l as it may sound, Linehan's methods have been independently studied by clinical researchers and shown to be effective.

The prime dissatisfaction for many of us is the sense that we are unworthy according to Tara Brach, PhD. We aren’t enough, we don’t do enough, we don’t have enough.  We live in a trance of unworthiness. It’s a trance because the pain of KNOWING the unworthy feelings is rather deep. So we keep really busy, so there’s no time to sit and know. We embark on self-improvement projects to try to be good enough. We avoid risks to avoid more pain. We withdraw from knowing our current experience.  We become self-critics. And like most self critics, we also become critical of others.  The trance of unworthiness involves being in close touch with a self that’s fearful, wanting, feeling alone and separate.  The self caught in desire, aversion , delusion. It means losing sight of the self who’s connected, whole, in the ‘fullness of being.’

“When we learn to face and feel the fear and shame we habitually avoid, we begin to awaken from the trance.”

B&W
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What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
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« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2011, 08:28:16 AM »

Great thread and I plan on going through this workshop myself... .  Today will be a hard day as I meet with d25, her treatment team and then her therapist.  Im not sure what to expect.

Fear:  They are going to ask me to do something I dont want to do.  They will think Im a bad mother when I enforce my own boundaries and limits.  D25 is going to target me and they will believe her.

Obligation:  I am her mother, I "should" be willing to do whatever it takes and whatever they suggest.  I should do "more"

Guilt:  I havent done enough, I did something to cause this.  My boundaries will trigger her. I get to come home... .she doesnt.


These are words in my head, although I know they arent true... .  So, I hand them over to you guys today and choose not to take them with me.

NTB
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« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2011, 10:10:48 AM »

I think for a parent you experience the FOG regardless of any particular attempt by the pwBPD to inflict it on you with emotional blackmail.  Below is an example of the FOG we've experienced:

Fear: 

1. What will become of our son's life?  Will he ever "recover" from BPD?  Will he ever be able to hold down jobs?  If we "let go" completely, will he spiral further downward into a life of crime, drug addiction, etc.?

2. We hesitate to crack down on hit behavior, because he might rage and cause damage or physical harm to someone else in the family.

Obligation:

He's our son.  We should do all we can to "fix" the problem.

Guilt:

1.  We must have made mistakes as parents to bring this on.  So much of the information on BPD talks about children who were not properly nurtured.  What could we have done to make him feel unloved or abandoned?

2. Why didn't we catch this earlier?  There were some signs when he was younger but we did not get him in therapy.  Could we have done more as parents to address personality issues while he was a minor?

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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2011, 10:07:43 AM »

My experience is that I have a pattern of thinking up new ways to make things better and then believing my w will work with me. Each time, over 20 years, I have been disappointed in the result. I find I keep overlooking the BPD. What I mean is I continue to find ways to help but they assume a rational partner is in there. They aren't. I know that yet I keep trying. I think that is the fog--it prevents me from seeing objectively. It has taken a long time but now when I find myself 'discovering' a new idea of how to help, I simply do not try. I feel that nothing will ever work.

owdrs

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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2011, 01:46:53 PM »

Yes, yes,  I do that,  I imagine what I can do to actually make it better despite what I read here.  I imagine surely there is that special way of saying something that will make it click for her.  I play it out in my head.  I even think about being blunt and just tell her, she is acting like a child, or you children are going to pick up on this and behave in the same way.  I struggle when i do wonder if saying something like, is this what you want your children to grow up doing.  I know they see these outrages sometimes... .  What to do in that case?   
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« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2011, 11:24:07 AM »

The kids do pick up on the behavior in the house. i see it now in s17 and d13. The fog, though, keeps me in a kind of alternate universe in that I am constantly balancing meeting the genuine needs of my kids vs the irrational needs of my w. In my life there's work, kids, house, and of course w. It's really hard to always be on top of the situations and the fog goes unnoticed sometimes.

owdrs
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« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2013, 08:36:47 AM »

What is my FOG?  I fear the divorce process.  I fear the trashing that will I will get in my social life, the trashing that I will likely get at work and the trashing I will get with the kids.  I fear that I will have to change jobs and move out of state.  I fear that I will lose lots and she will stay in my life harassing me.  I fear letting go of my dream.

I struggle with a sense of obligation to take care of the kids and her before I take care of myself.  Guilt eats at me when I don’t take care of them before myself.  Guilt eats me up when I let myself down and put others first. 

This hero crap has really got to go.  Being pissed off helps.  It pisses me off that we would have a pretty nice life if she would just act half way normal. There is not a reason in the world that I should have to put up with this sort of crap. I am not wanting all that much.  The task ahead of me to let go of the anger and stay just as fed up.   But then again, the anger helps to burn off the FOG.

I'm new to the discussion board but this nails it for me. My sister told me once to stay angry, it will help keep you focused and seeing things clearly.

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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2013, 12:27:44 AM »

I'm so happy I found this site BUT... . it's very very difficult when the BPD is your child. I can't consider "leaving" or divorcing. I can't cure his mental illness thought that's my greatest wish. He's only 16 and only trust me and just a little bit. His step-day won't educate himself the way I am so while I try and validate he think's I'M CRAZY.

I've discussed NIF with my son and he said he'd much rather do that than talk therapy. I asked so you do think you need some things to change in your brain? He said Heck yes that's obvious mom. So he's semi self aware but I haven't discussed BPD in detail with him because I think he'll try to live up to that. I did tell him his therapist suggested he had a PD and I regret even telling him that. He does know he has ODD ... . I truely feel he wants a "normal" life. He want to be happy and connect with others.

Fear ~ my son never having real peace and joy in his heart. My family falling apart under the weight of these issues.

Obligation~ Uh YEAH He's my son. He's had a very difficult life. His Bio day has been in prison for 10 years (I suspect PD all the way) His step dad doesn't understand, has given up and they basically don't speak. He has type 1 diabetes for the past 8 years. He overdosed at age 15 on our first day of family vacation? His grapdpa, father figure passed away suddenly 1 year ago while he was still in treatment and we held his hand as he passed. He loved and trusted my dad more than any other.

Guilt~ see above. I was a teen mom and made a lot of mistakes. We failed him as a blended family. I know the pain he has in his heart. HIS life MUST get better. Depression and Bi polar runs in the family.

Any success with Neurofeedback? I'm willing to make the investment if it will help him with his poor impulse contral and bring him some peace.
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« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2013, 06:43:40 AM »

I agree with you that this is harder when it's your child.   I struggle with this also.  

Before I found this awesome site, this safe haven of acceptance and learning, alot of the books I had read tells you how to identify someone with BPD and then to stay away from them.   It doesn't relate to us parents.  

My ddBPD21 doesn't live with us (has been in and out of our home 5 times in the past 4 years) and each day I live in fear of her being arrested or dying.   Through the support of this site, I feel better about enforcing the boundaries we have in place (such as her not physically living with us) but at the same time I still worry about her and her future every single day.   As her mother I want to protect her from her impulsive, poor choices but I cannot.   And when she gets herself into a mess, as her mother I struggle with how to handle it.  :)o I make her face the consequences herself or do I fix the mess?   My dd refuses responsibility.  

She starts a job and in short time stops showing up.  it's more important to 'chill out' with people than to have steady income.   It's very hard to see our children standing on the edge of a 'cliff'.   But each day we try and we pray and we hope.

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« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2014, 02:19:37 AM »

Never realized that I have been in the FOG for many many years. Although it is finally lifting.What was I thinking
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« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2014, 06:23:35 PM »

Fear - What else she will say to that kids/family/friends about me,  how badly she will ruin our finances in her abandoning the situation.  She tried once almost pulled the trigger on 4k(that we didnt have) of plane tickets to fly her and the kids away.  That she will be even more manupulating during the custody battle.

Obligation - To my children to keep some sort of peace, 2 of them are autisitic.  That she is my problem to deal with.  If I leave she gets the kids and temporarily they will get her wrath.  Obligation to break out of the pattern of brokeness that our extended families brought us up in.  The Mariage Vow, I know this dosent include commonly include mental illness here in this board, I AM obligated by my faith to go till I have no fight or I am given spiritual direction to leave.  Honnor(Im a Marine) What man leaves his wife and 3 children?

Guilt - That I WANT to leave, Hit her, Scream at her.  Get back at her for her adultry.  That She is the worst thing that I have ever been through and the hardest thing I have ever had to wrap my mind around.  That If I had left earlier that I would have left my daughter.  Guilt that I have 2 Beautiful sons that I love soo much and to want to have never met her would mean they never would have ever existed.  Guilt that I was mad that my daughter had been born and that was what my BPDw said was the reason why she didn't tell me about her infidelity earlier(took her 8+years).  Guilt that I HATE going to church with her at a good church when she forced me away from another good church because she painted them black. Guilt that I have wanted to end my life because of the unending FOG I live in EVERY day and take away the only consistant thing my children have.  Guilt that I just want to run away and live in the woods and turn my back on the world because I have such deep wounds.    
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« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2014, 02:30:42 PM »

Psychotherapist Beverly Engel, a recognized expert in the field of relationships, explains how limits disappear.  In her book, “The Emotionally Abusive Relationship,” Engel writes, “Most of us begin a relationship thinking we have certain limits as to what we will and will not tolerate from a partner. But as the relationship progresses, we tend to move our boundaries back, tolerating more and more intrusion or going along with things we are really opposed to. . . . [Individuals] begin tolerating unacceptable and even abusive behavior, and then convince themselves that these behaviors are normal, acceptable, [and deserved]. 

My Fear was her constant instability with her decisions, in the morning she would call my to let me know about getting a job in my city and in the evening saying that wasn't sure about taking it.

My "felt" Obligation was to remind her about her words and logic's to apply, as I thought she was just depressed I was trying to help her being stable. That was then interpreted as I way to control her. Of course I admit that I was trying to have her close to me.

My Guilt, was when I would plan to go out with friends or when I would be out of town for work, these were the days she would cling the most.

She would keep me on chatting, even though she knew I had to go or work. I would feel some much guilt of not listening to her feelings and complaints. I thought that I had to be there for her 24 7/7 and it's just not possible for me.

Now I'm learning to put my feelings first and detect early abusive emotional blackmail. I still feel not completely at ease with the way of asserting my boundaries, I guess I should jump to the dedicated workshop.

Thank you all for this great thread.

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« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2014, 01:41:23 PM »

When I found this topic on FOG, I realized that when it comes to my BPD brother, this is why I can't let go. It's why I can't tell him "No more. I'm not helping you with your business any more, I'm done. I'm not going to let you treat me this way. This is not "You just being you & I have to get used to it." This isn't me having to get use to you walking with a limp; you're telling me to get use to the abuse. You know you have BPD and choose to get no help. You use it as an excuse to treat me the way you do. You manipulate me because you know my FOG. You know it because our mom treated me in some very similar ways that you do, and you just copied it & took it to a new level. You choose to not get help, so I choose to no longer deal with you unless it's as your sister, and if you can treat me in a way that is respectful. If you choose to finally get help I will support you, but it still doesn't change how you need to treat me. You can sit there & think I'm abandoning you, but I'm not. I'm just setting boundaries. But you go ahead & think whatever you want. Just because you have BPD does not give you the key to make me feel horrible & destroy me. I don't deserve that. So it stops, now."

My Fear:

Worse case scenario is that you will kill yourself. "Best case" scenario is that you continue to take tens of thousands of dollars away from our parents yearly, putting a huge stress on our sick father to work longer than he should (he's already 66-1/2), and causing them financial pains/struggles that they shouldn't have to deal with just because they trusted you & loved you. Yes, they continue to enable you and live in denial, but you admit it and continue to use them. I don't want them to suffer because of your actions. I fear that you will not seek help unless you literally hit rock bottom... .and I don't know where that is & it terrifies me.

My Obligation:

You're my brother. Our mom has her own undiagnosed mental health issues, which makes her unable to be of any help in this situation. You were always her favorite and you two are similar in a lot of ways. She can't say no to you. You use her to get money, but you treat her like dirt. You point out her flaws & make her retreat even further into a mess. Our father knows she's not well, chose to stay with her but detached himself from the family decades ago. He knows you need help but can't even bring himself to talk to you. He knows it will cause issues between him and our mother, and he can't deal with her if she's upset, since he has to live with her every day. So he lets her just keep giving you money and lets you keep using them. Neither of them will do anything. They've given you everything you've wanted your whole life. You're 31 and never been financially on your own. Since I'm the only one who seems to want to live in reality and can clearly see everything that is going on, it's my obligation to help you. Not just for you, but for our parents, because even though they are our parents, they are unable to cope with the idea that you have BPD and it's going to affect all of our lives. How? Because when dad retires and one of them needs health care or more, they won't have the money because they've given it all to you. Which means the financial burden will fall on me, and I don't make enough to take care of them. I can contribute, but not enough to give them the care & support they need. Dad worked himself to death to give us a great life, to improve all of our lives. He deserves to have a great retirement, and should not need to be worrying about money. I am a smart person, I am capable of helping you if you were in the right mindset to take it. So I keep telling myself that I'm obligated to "save the family" by trying to make your business actually a real business with actual work. Because if your business works, then you can stop living off of them and ideally pay back the huge business loan you took from them, and it would also mean I won't be dealing with some huge financial obligation down the road that I can't meet because of all the money they gave to you and will never get back.

My Guilt:

Because of our not-in-her-right-mind mother, she enabled you & did everything for you, and you are clueless as to how to be an adult. Dad doesn't know how to be your dad or even communicate with you. So who else do you have? If I pull away, if I stop trying to "help" you, then I'm afraid of what will happen to you. I think that you are actually very smart & talented, and that the only thing standing in the way of you having a decent life is YOU. If I pull away and you end up never being able to do anything with your life, have a relationship, have a decent job... .I will feel like I failed you because you were my baby brother. I helped raise you as dad was working and mom was often a mess. If you have a horrible life, I will feel guilty because maybe I should have done more early on when I saw things in you that concerned me. And worse case scenario, I don't think I can ever forgive myself if you were to take your life. You say you've tried before. You say you don't feel suicidal at all now like you did the last few years. But I don't believe you. The way you talk sometimes terrifies me. I don't want to lose my brother. I don't want to feel responsible for your death. How would I even continue to have a relationship with our parents, because part of me would blame them and the other part of me would know they would likely blame me. Everyone always looks to me. Dad's words on Christmas Eve to me, as you were in a rant & out of your mind, was "Fix this." He looked at me with tears in his eyes, Mom standing right there, four of us in the room, and I'm the one told to "Fix this." To fix you. They left me in the room with you for two hours, while I nearly lost my mind & was in horrible physical pain from my own issues, to get you to a place where you were someone we could actually be around. Meanwhile they walked around the neighborhood & enjoyed the outdoors. I feel like this is all on me, so how could I not feel guilty if your life gets worse or you die if I pull away like I know I need to do?
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« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2015, 07:52:36 AM »

It's only now that I have had some time away from my BPDh that I can truly appreciate what it's like to be in the fog.  (This separation is temporary and stems from my work situation, and not because the relationship has dissolved.)  In the fog is where the unaware self lives.  It's that place where there is very little, if any, original thought.  It's simply reactive.  It's where every situation is lose-lose, every action 'wrong'.  And even when I would work through the fear enough to try something independent, it became a battle - being told I'm wrong, stupid or silly for trying.  Sometimes the words come from my BPDh and sometimes they simply come from my own mind.  I guess I've been trained to think that way.

Living independent has been eye opening.  For the first few days, I've had to pinch myself - is this really real?  Am I really here?  It feels foreign, but also like a long lost friend.  That knowing that this is how we are meant to live - un-meshed and unleashed.

Now, my fears stem from knowing my BPDh hasn't always been trustworthy, hasn't always been upfront and real about his actions.  So even though I'm away from him, I still worry about his actions.  I'm sure this will fade in time as I learn that my life can still be good, regardless of what he does or says. I fear not being my true self.  I don't really like this timid, nervous, unsure person I've become, but I still dont know how to be anything else.

My feelings of obligation and guilt have had the biggest shift.  I am only obligated to myself now.  This has been a long process, but something that I've done well at.  He still tries to make me feel like I'm expected to do certain things (You'll have to come home, the cat has a splinter in his paw, the bills need to be paid, the dog farted, whatever.)  but I see through this now.  I set a boundary around not 'rescuing' him about six months back, so I've had some experience with training myself to think differently.  It has helped a lot. 

Don't get me wrong, I do still get pangs of "I should" thinking, but that's my cue, my indicator, that perhaps the thinking isn't healthy.  Like my councilor says, ':)on't should on me and I won't should on you."  And right now, while I have time to consider things, with my new independent thinking, I can work through these emotions instead of holding on to them and living blindly, in the fog.
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« Reply #29 on: July 07, 2015, 10:13:23 PM »

My fear is making someone else feel badly. I feel obligated to put other's feelings before my own. I feel guilty when I am human.
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