A couple of questions

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Oldguy61

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2017, 03:59:37 AM »
Very true. I find that the less I care about her mental health, the more I disconnect from her emotions, the happier I am.
I had a good morning this morning. I was actually happy!

Sounds good! Glad to hear that things are starting to go your way a bit!

But it's such a weird balance for me.
In a normal relationship, wouldn't you be invested in the others emotional life? It just seems like a natural thing to be doing. The difference is that in this situation the person has a pd which gives her a crazy emotional life, and when you are a part of it, you get sucked down with it.
I don't feel like I am enmeshing in any unhealthy way. It's only unhealthy because her mental health is... unhealthy if that makes sense.

I'm trying to figure out what I need to fix. But I don't think I'm doing any unnatural enmeshment.

Me NOT really caring about her feelings feels very unnatural to me.

Thoughts?

That's a big subject. I've actually read up a bit on this subject, so I can put together some thoughts and even provide some links and reading material. But it may take me a day or so. Like I said, it's a big subject.

I see it as three related issues:

1) What is enmeshment? Can two healthy partners get enmeshed?

2) What is the proper distance between two healthy partners in a healthy relationship? Should they be joined at the hip and doing everything together, or is it healthier to have some separation of portions of their lives?

3) Assuming two partners manage to find or create that proper distance mentioned above, what happens when one makes demands for support on the other? How do they decide what's Yours, what's Mine and what's Ours? Should the partners automatically be on-call for each other at all times, or can they respond, "Sorry, but that's Yours. You're on your own with that one."?

Like I said, I can provide some thoughts on those issues. But let me get back to you on it in a day or so. It's a great question; I just need some time to put it all together in a single post.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 04:02:39 AM by Oldguy61 »

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Shell92127

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2017, 07:38:43 AM »
GREAT discussion. Yes getting sucked in..ugh..enmeshed...going no contact cleared my mind.

Yes we need to care about the partner's feelings but not at the expense of destroying our own peace of mind and sanity. We have to love ourselves first and care enough about our own health and well being. Tolerating abuse helps
NOBODY. We have to see that putting up with bad treatment not only does not help US but when we do that, we are participating in the self-destructive behavior of the partner. Which doesn't really help THEM-!!
 :P
 

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blahblah

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2017, 04:07:22 PM »
Very true Shell!

Oldguy61 I would very much like to read what you have:)


The story continues:

Earlier that day she had said that she wasnt very well and that she needed an embrace when i came home.  She had had nightmares because I hadnt missed her in return (she was gone for freaking 2 days with the kids. I didnt miss them either. I didnt even notice they were gone, because of work etc.

Straight when i came home I offered her an embrace. She was tired and cleaning so she said not right now.

I played with the kids and got them ready for bed. I could tell that she was really not in a good mood (was irritated at the kids), so I just lt her be angry in our bedroom, chilling with the ipad. No problem.

I then poured her a cup of juice that i had just bought for her because she said she wasnt feeling well (she appreciates organic good juice), and put it nex to the bed.

I didnt want to connect with her drama and wanted her to cool of so I just sat in front of the computer in my office room.

I then get a text saying "I would like to order some time in your calender for some love. A spot where you take 5 min. to think about us and me.
I thought it was a joke, or a funny way of saying "i need you". So I happily walk into our bedroom. I dont mind comforting her etc.

She has a very dissatisfied look on her face when I come in.

Now she is saying that since she got home I have not been very loving and affectionate. She told me she had missed me a lot and she was sad and mad that I didnt miss her in return. I said, yes i didnt miss you or the kids one bit, you where gone 2 days and i didnt even notice any of you were gone.
She then started talking about how i could be loving and gentle with the kids but not her. I told her that she seemed in a bad mood and seemed to not want my affection, so i just let her be. She then said that that was the wrong thing to do. I just kindly told her that you cant get it right everytime. (as in sometimes things go wrong sometimes they go right). She goes on again a bit, how she feels like im not on her mind, and i just say that im not concsiosly erasing ehr from my mind etc, im just doing what i always do. I off her a hug, but she declines. I tell her that I could stay and we could talk more, but if she doesnt want me to stay I will leave. She says she doesnt know what to say. I kiss her hand and leave the room.

All of this is done in a very matter of fact tone from me. But i'm rolling my eyes, in my mind.
I can feel i am coming Out of the FOG again. When i sat back down in my office room, i could hear my brain going "you deserve better than this". And i do. This is crap, and EXACTLY why i am stressed out and nervous often.



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142757

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2017, 08:35:04 PM »
Honest observations.......

.....PD's can't acknowledge that their past behavior causes their present treatment. They also don't get the concept that acting unlovable doesn't make you lovable. I went thru the same things w/my ex. She wanted her knight in shining armor to slay the dragon, only she was the dragon.

.....When people ask me did I miss them, I say yeah, even when I didn't. I took a couple days off to end the week last week & my coworkers said they missed me. I said "sure", knowing they could honestly care less. They barely say anything to me when I'm there, so why would my absence cause sentimental feelings? What I'm getting at is that it is a phony thing people do. Folks want you to think they care for you & want to feel you care for them. That's what it's all about. Even if you didn't miss her in the sense of wanting her to be there, you did miss her in the sense of you noticed her absence. Maybe not in the way she wants, but still you did see the diff when she wasn't there. I'd like to call the phonies out on their fake feelings, but why add drama to your life when you don't have to, right? It's a small thing that doesn't have to cause us a big problem.

.....Many PD's are going through a lot of inward emotional turmoil over their relationships. They think that's a sign of their strong love. They want to see the same from the non's. I posted this strip last summer....(wish I could post images)........

http://assets.amuniversal.com/f2a9d330118201346aab005056a9545d

It really illustrates what goes on in their mind. My wife would get us both mad & then want to be intimate right after.  :stars:  IMO, it accomplished 3 things for her: 1) Made her think I was passionate about her. 2) Let her burn off all of that negative energy she had built up in her brain. 3) The lovemaking was her way of apologizing w/o having to actually say "I'm sorry" or admit fault.

If I had to guess, your wife had spent her time away making a bunch of assumptions about you & your feelings. And due to confirmation bias, she interpreted your actions on her return as proof her assumptions were right.
"Somedays you just can't get rid of a bomb."

Adam West (Batman)
9/19/28 - 6/10/17

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Oldguy61

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2017, 03:29:29 AM »
I'm following up on my earlier post promising to talk about issues of enmeshment and appropriate "emotional distance" in a relationship. Jumping off what I said earlier, I'll divide my thoughts into three posts, based on the issues I mentioned previously.

(Note: I originally provided links to some articles and studies, but it turns out that the forum won't allow me to provide external links in my posts. Instead, I'll tell you what to search for, if you want to do the reading.)

First:

1) What is enmeshment? Can two healthy partners get enmeshed?

Wikipedia defines enmeshment (also sometimes referred to as "engulfment") as "families where personal boundaries are diffused, sub-systems undifferentiated, and over-concern for others leads to a loss of autonomous development." (See Wikipedia under "Enmeshment" for more on the subject.)

If you're in a relationship with a partner who has a PD, then you may be dealing with "Enmeshment with a capital E." Kind of like getting sucked into a black hole. The OOTF website has a description of the experience at the  "Top 100 Traits & Behaviors" page under the Personality Disorders tab. It says, "Engulfment can be a frightening, threatening and exhausting experience for the victim."

But the Wikipedia article seems to indicate that one can also experience "enmeshment with a small e." That is, enmeshment can occur between two non-PDs. It can occur in broad variety of relationships. As I read it, it can happen to two healthy people with weak boundaries. Other relationships get crowded out (friendships, extended families), and as a result one or both parties become increasingly isolated. Or in some cases, the stronger personality in the relationship can swamp or suffocate the weaker personality.

One quick example: Do a search for the phrase "urge to merge" as used in the LGBT community. It's a stereotype about how lesbian partners tend to become identical to each other.

In fact, there are indications that "enmeshment with a small e" is pretty common in everyday marriages. There have been psychological studies showing that couples who revolve around each other are less mentally healthy than single people with friends. For example, do a search for an article entitled "The Fragile Spouse and the Resilient Single Person" by Bella DePaulo Ph.D. at Psychology Today.

The last item (the study mentioned by Ms. DePaulo) is circumstantial evidence, of course. The study was small, and the subjects in the study weren't analyzed for codependency or PDs or whatever. But it definitely sends a message about emotional distance when closeness with a partner in random marriages appears unhealthier than being single and just having friends.

To sum up: Enmeshment/engulfment is certainly a danger when a PD is involved, but it appears that even normal couples can suffer it to some degree.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2017, 03:31:39 AM by Oldguy61 »

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Oldguy61

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2017, 03:36:26 AM »
Second issue:

2) What is the proper emotional distance between two healthy partners in a healthy relationship? Should they be joined at the hip and doing everything together, or is it healthier to have some separation of portions of their lives?

I haven't done exhaustive reading on this subject or found any one definitive source defining the "best" or "healthiest" emotional distance in a relationship. Naturally, to some degree it would depend on the partners: People have different tolerances for emotional distance or closeness, and it's up to the couple to figure out what works best for them.

On the other hand, I have read a few books on relationships, dating, etc. and I've specifically looked for what the experts might say on the subject in those books. And there does seem to be a consensus: Too much closeness is smothering; partners should have areas of their life that are separate.

Let me start with Dr. Phil McGraw (yes, that Dr. Phil). I can't stand his TV shows, but I've found that he has written a series of really excellent self-help books. He wrote the book "Love Smart" (published 2005), which is advice for single women on how to find a life partner (from meeting to dating to marriage). Much of the advice is also workable for men, if you reverse-engineer it a bit.

Once you have a good relationship or marriage, here is what Dr. Phil says on the subject of working to keep the union successful:

"Do your own thing. This may sound contrary to what you think, because if you're happy you should be attached at the hip and eager to spend every waking moment together, right? Wrong. We all have things we enjoy that our partner doesn't--maybe you like skiing but he can't stand the cold or you're into art but he'd rather get his back waxed than go to a museum. The mistake we make is to give up our interest to appease our partners. In the beginning it may be okay, but at some point you're going to get bored and resent him. Doing everything together will eventually make you feel suffocated. You don't want to marry yourself. I've said it a million times: I don't want to be married to me. I don't want somebody to thinks the way I do, looks like me, feels the way I do. I want to be married to somebody who's got her own personality, her own interests, her own beliefs, her own way and style. Spending time apart focusing on your separate interests allows each of you to grow on your own. That growth will enhance your relationship when you're together. (Chapter 11, pages 269-270)

What about from the perspective of healthy boundaries? I've already mentioned "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend (published 1992). Here is what they say on the subject. (Keep in mind that they come from a Christian perspective but also provide excellent psychological grounding for their advice.)

Time. Each spouse needs time apart from the relationship. Not just for limit setting, as we pointed out above, but for self-nourishment. The Proverbs 31 wife has a life of her own; she is out doing many things. The same is true of her husband. They have their own time for doing what they like and for seeing their own friends.
Many couples have trouble with this aspect of marriage. They feel abandoned when their spouse wants time apart. In reality, spouses need time apart, which makes them realize the need to be back together. Spouses in healthy relationships cherish each other's space and are champions of each other's causes.


What about from a non-psychological, common-sense point of view? "The Rules," written by Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider (published 1995) was a very popular book written for women by a couple female non-psychologists to help women find a husband. It was very popular 10-15 years back and still is on many women's bookshelves. From Rule 26, "Even if you're engaged or married, you still need The Rules":

4. Act independent. Alway be coming or going. Don't sit on the couch waiting for him to come home. Don't bore him with details about your day or your aches and pains. Make lots of plans with friends, your kids, the neighbors. Go to the movies, to the shopping mall. Just go. This will make him desperate to catch a minute of your time. [...] Men love independent women because they leave them alone. They love chasing women who are busy. It gives them a thrill, as big as a touchdown or a home run.
5. Take up a hobby. [...] Women tend to feel empty when their boyfriends or husbands don't include them in their plans or pay attention to them. It's imperative that you don't nag him to give up his hobbies, friends, or work because you're bored. You'll get lots more attention from him if you get even busier than he is. [...] The key here is to keep yourself independent and busy. This way you're not hanging around him and complaining that he's not paying enough attention to you!"
(Rule 26, pages 120-121)

What about retirement? You and your partner will have all day together with nothing to do: How does that work out? Well, the Baby Boomers are starting to retire now, and they find themselves healthier, living longer, and with more money than previous generations. They have more options for living a fun, healthy, fulfilling retirement. And what do you think the result has been? More divorces.

According to the latest statistics, the divorce rate has doubled in the over-50 group since the 1990s. Sociologists call them "gray divorces," that is, divorces by people age 50 and over. The issue has been written up many times; you can do a web search for many articles on the subject.

Part of the problem appears to be that couples have problems managing how close or separate they should be. Below is a link to an article from 2013 suggesting that retired couples need to learn to live more separate lives. They suggest a device called "parallel play." If a retired husband and wife want different things out of life, the article suggests that they could remain married but lead separate lives by day, perhaps even living in different residences. The article suggests that "parallel play" might be healthier overall than living in retirement joined at the hip and doing everything together.

Here is an excerpt:

Eight years ago, I wrote a book about the challenges that partners can expect to face when planning for and living together during retirement. In the time since, I have seen thousands of couples in connection with speeches, seminars, therapy sessions and email/mail/phone encounters. One issue has become abundantly clear: Individuals who do almost everything together in later life—who are "joined at the hip"—usually aren't as satisfied or fulfilled as couples where spouses have their own interests and, ideally, are learning new skills.

[Link aren't allowed for this post; do a search for the article "Why Too Much Togetherness Can Ruin Retirement" by Maryanne Vandervelde in The Wall Street Journal.]

I could provide many more examples. But I think the trend is clear. The experts seem to show a certain consensus: A certain degree of emotional distance and separateness is both healthy and normal.

That leaves one more question: If separateness is the healthy norm, then why do so many enablers/codependents/rescuers seek super-close, super-supportive relationships, thus making themselves vulnerable to PDs, abusers, or other types of "enmeshers"?

Here is the short answer from "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend (published 1992): Basically it's about "unmet developmental needs." Enablers/codependents/rescuers often grew up in households where there may have been anger issues, too much emotional distance (not enough support and love), or other problems. When these enablers/codependents/rescuers grow up and become adults, they want to fill that emotional gap with their partner. They idealize a perfect, close, supportive bond and try to work to make that ideal come to life. The trouble is that, like many ideals, it just doesn't work out in real life. It results in smothering, enmeshment, codependency, and so on. Yet the enabler/codependent/rescuer has great difficulty recognizing the futility of their efforts. They cling to a bad relationship, hoping to turn it around and turn it into that perfect bond that exists in their head.

(By the way, this kind of gets back to what I said earlier about enablers/codependents/rescuers kind of being covert control freaks. That is, they're trying to control the relationship and make it match an ideal model in their head. And they can be quite tenacious about it, despite failure after failure.)

Ultimately, Cloud and Townsend say that it's healthiest for the enabler/codependent/rescuer to let go of that idealized version of love that's in their head, grieve it, mourn it, and then move on to establish proper emotional distance in relationships using boundaries. If you want to read more, the book "Boundaries" covers these issues in Chapter 14, pages 258-259 in the section "Internal Resistances."
« Last Edit: July 28, 2017, 03:38:17 AM by Oldguy61 »

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Oldguy61

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2017, 03:40:32 AM »
Third issue:

3) Assuming two partners manage to find or create that proper emotional distance mentioned above, what happens when one makes demands for support on the other? How do they decide what's Yours, what's Mine and what's Ours? Should the partners automatically be on-call for each other at all times, or can they respond, "Sorry, but that's Yours. You're on your own with that one."?

Basically, this comes down to the idea of "metrics." That is, if we are to create a degree of separateness, then how do we know which ideas/issues/needs/bonds/interactions should be shared vs. which ones should be separate? We need a system of metrics (markers, measuring sticks, guidelines) to tell us exactly where we should be separate versus living a shared life.

For example, consider: Your partner and you agree that you two should have some separate interests and friends and space in your life, if only for the purpose of healthy psychological development. It looks like a good idea on paper. But your partner needs a lot of help and support working on her new interests and pursuits, and over time you find yourself spending all your time supporting *her* new life. You want to be supportive of her new interests, but when you're permanently on-call for all her various needs you find that you don't have time for a life or interests of your own. In fact, narcissists often work this way. *They* have a life of their own, but *you* don't have a life of your own because you spend so much time providing help and support for *their* life.

So what's the metric? Where are the markers that tell you what's Yours, what's Mine and what's Ours?

Obviously it's going to be a judgment call. But experts on boundaries do provide some guidance on this issue.

For example, the book "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do" (published 2014) was written by Amy Morin, a licensed psychotherapist who works with CEOs of companies. In Chapter 2 she describes the metric as a simple economic calculation. She puts it all under the heading of "Don't give away your power." She says to pay attention to how much time you spend on people each day, in terms of being with them or doing things for them or thinking about them (including things like holding a grudge, obsessing about them, complaining about them to others). Are they the people you want receiving all that energy and time from you? You're in charge of your own life. So take charge. Figure out how much free time you have, and prioritize that accordingly. Once you hit the limit for any one person, then it's time to push back and reclaim your life.

Or here is another idea for a metric. In "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, the authors make a distinction between
--1) The normal daily loads that everyone carries and that everyone is expected to carry by themselves;
versus
--2) Special one-time burdens that crop up and are simply too big or too heavy for one person to carry by themselves. (Chapter 2, pages 32-33, under the heading "To and For").

To exercise that boundary, you basically refuse to help a partner with the normal daily loads that everyone is expected to carry by themselves. If you help a partner with such loads, it equates to "infantilizing" them: It treats them like children, too young or too ignorant to do even simple tasks by themselves. It teaches our partner that if he/she whines and complains enough, they don't have to do anything themselves. They can live like infants, with adults doing all their work for them.

Thefore, when it comes to such normal daily loads, you put your foot down and insist that your partner be mature enough to handle the things that any adult should be able to handle. On the other hand, when it comes time for special one-time burdens (like an illness or an emergency in the family), then fine: At such times it would be self-centered if you didn't help out.

These are both simple, common-sense principles. And common sense really is at the basis of boundaries. Of course, a narcissist partner will try to game the system. They'll try to guilt you and say that you have no right assigning them a percentage of your day and telling them that they only have so much or your time (as described in Morin's book). Or they'll insist that *everything* they need is a one-time special burden that requires your time and assistance (as described in "Boundaries").

So if more assistance is needed in working out these metrics and implementing them, do the following two things:

1) Go read "Boundaries." It basically provides 300 pages detailing exactly where all the boundaries conventionally lie in a number of different environments: Relationships, marriages, the workplace, with parents and siblings, with children, etc. Another good self-help book along these same lines is "F*ck Feelings" by Michael I. Bennett MD, and Sarah Bennett. (That's really the title, asterisk and all.)

And

2) Grow a pair and put your foot down.

The authors of "Boundaries" understand quite well how difficult it is for enablers/codependents/rescuers to set and enforce boundaries. They talk at length about the reasons that people enable and rescue. For example in Chapter 5 they note that codependents make sacrifices for others not out of love but out of fear:

--Fear of loss of love or abandonment
--Fear of others' anger
--Fear of loneliness
--Fear of not being good: They think that saying 'no' makes them a bad person.
--Guilt
--Payback: They feel they owe others
--Need for approval
--Over-identification with others' plights


The authors point out that sacrifices made out of fear lead to resentment, not freedom. Seek freedom first, then assist others out of a sense of free compassion rather than making sacrifices out of fear.

Of course, with all the fear and guilt built up across the years, it's obviously not an easy thing to set boundaries and enforce them. But the authors walk you through it. For instance, if your partner gets angry at you for setting and enforcing a boundary, the authors suggest:

a) Boundaries are healthy. If the other person gets angry with that, *they* have a problem, not *you*.
b) Anger is only a feeling, and it can't hurt you. Just stay separate from it. Let the other person feel the anger, not you.
c) Don't react to the anger (don't rescue, seek approval, or get angry back). Don't be reactive.
d) Have a support system in place to help you deal with the anger.
e) Don't get angry just because they are angry. Be separate enough to love and even sympathize.
f) Be prepared to announce and enforce consequences: "I won't allow myself to be yelled at. I will go into the other room until you decide you can talk without attacking me. When you can do that, I will talk to you." It may mean that the other person will leave you when they find they can't control you -- be prepared for that, as well.
(Chapter 14)

if your partner guilt-trips you for setting and enforcing a boundary:

a) Recognize guilt messages. Guilt messages are given for the purpose of manipulating and controlling.
b) Guilt messages are anger in disguise. Guilt-trippers don't want to recognize how angry they are, so they put the focus on you instead.
c) Similarly, guilt messages hide sadness and hurt that the guilt-tripper doesn't want to admit to themselves.
d) Be assertive and interpret their messages as being about their feelings: "It sounds like you are angry that I chose to do X. I'm sorry you feel that way." From this posture you can empathize, and that may help reduce some of the guilt-tripping in that you are validating their feelings. Also, it puts you in a proactive posture rather than a reactive posture: You're taking the lead on how to address the situation.
e) Don't explain or justify your actions. You don't want to become the guilty child trying to justify yourself; that would be playing their game. Just tell what you have chosen. If you want to clarify why, that's fine. But don't try to resolve your guilt or change their mind (rescue them); that's playing their game.
f) If the guilt works on you, that's *your* problem. The burden is on you to address this unhealthy interaction. You can't just sit around and blame others for making you feel bad.
(Chapter 14)

And so on.

So basically, to sum up: Yes, it's tough to fight old bad habits and create new ones, especially when you have to drag a PD partner along kicking and screaming on this journey. But there are self-help books out there that will provide the metrics, show you exactly where the boundaries should lie, and walk you through how to deal with your partner's reaction. You don't have to re-invent the wheel. Do the reading, and then reclaim your life.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2017, 04:07:05 AM by Oldguy61 »

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Oldguy61

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2017, 03:43:27 AM »
Here's a quick afternote on the subject of boundaries:

The usual disclaimers about boundaries apply. Boundaries aren't a panacea. As I pointed out in another thread:

Sometimes you create some boundaries and your partner respects them. Or some partners fight them at first but then eventually accept them. Either way, when a partner learns to respect your boundaries, it results in some degree of improvement in the relationship overall.

Of course, there are other partners who simply never will respect boundaries. Many PDs hate boundaries and try their best to work around them. They may just escalate things and push back harder. If it turns out that our partner is never going to respect our limits/needs/boundaries, that's important to know too.

In this way, boundaries serve as a "litmus test" for relationships. They become a "litmus test" for determining when people are being fair-minded and respectful toward each other versus when they are being unfair and disrespectful. They let us know what kind of partner we have, which gets us past some of the uncertainty and helps us move onto the next step (couples counseling, separation, whatever).

The book "Boundaries" talks about what to do when boundaries simply don't work. In Chapter 14, the authors state in the section "Countermoves" that honest people will respond, albeit reluctantly, to limit-setting. But some other people will react to your boundaries with countermoves and/or escalation. They'll look to punish you or cut you off from privileges. The authors caution that people who engage in such countermoves often have a character disorder. They simply may never yield to limits, and it may come down to a rupture. So the main preparation here is to do a cost/benefit analysis and figure out if you can handle the consequences of an outright rupture. If so, then it may be appropriate to go for it and work out whatever details need to be worked out to fill the gap (financial, emotional, etc.) left by the departure of the other person.

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blahblah

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2017, 01:16:04 AM »
Thanks a lot everyone. (and especially oldguy61 for the very thorough post!)

I have been doing TONS better since i last posted. I don't have a pit in the stomach, and i'm not walking on eggshells. It's a lot about boundaries for me and her. I think that the last time we discussed things, i didnt get entangled in her drama (grey rock etc) and it's working wonders right now.

Thanks!

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142757

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2017, 03:17:48 PM »
Glad to hear it.
"Somedays you just can't get rid of a bomb."

Adam West (Batman)
9/19/28 - 6/10/17

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blahblah

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #30 on: August 10, 2017, 09:38:52 AM »
So I hit rock bottom again. I had an entire week where I felt like my old self. I felt carefree. I loved being with my wife and kids and I had hope and dreams for the future. It's been years since I felt so free. Then my wife had an episode. It didn't escalate, it didn't get big, there really wasn't any wild drama, but it triggered me. The past couple of days have been down right awful. I started to constantly feel like I couldn't breathe. I got claustrophobic. Had nightmares etc. horrible.
I'm slowly getting better now.

It's like I've got shell shock from the years where she was treating me really bad. And thyes slightest hint of it really affects me.

A good thing about this, is that I think it shows that I'm not in the fog anymore. My body has let go and is actually reacting to stuff now.
I hope I can get the good feeling back because that was amazing. I felt genuinely happy with no black line going through all the good experiences, so to speak.

Hoping to wake up without a pit in my stomach soon.

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zenagain

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #31 on: August 10, 2017, 11:44:56 AM »
 :yeahthat:  I am here with you BlahBlah... Seems like I am the one ranting lately to my ucovertNPDw over the slightest hint of her trying to break me into her old PD whipping boy.   I have stated that I really do not want to go back to where she and I were a month ago as far as how she treated me, but she is using all of this standing up for myself against me - to paint me black.   Some quotes, "I hope you feel better for standing up for yourself, but I need you to start thinking about me again"  :stars: :aaauuugh: :sadno:

Trying really hard to not JADE and just chill, but its even more difficult when I am holding on the little bit of progress I felt I had made...   

be strong!

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blahblah

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2017, 02:47:59 PM »
Thanks a lot. I really need it these days!
The quote you shared is awful. It would make me furious.
I feel for you and I hope your situation gets better. Just remember that WE actually hold the power to make it better. As soon as we go back to our old ways, things start to get horrible again.
And what's the worst that could happen?
Divorce.
And in many ways, that's not a bad thing.


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blahblah

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #33 on: August 11, 2017, 01:53:00 AM »
Question:
How do you let go of the past?
Since things aren't as chaotic with my wife I can feel that I react more strongly to small things she does that triggers me.

I feel absolutely horrible these days. It's like an old wound that won't heal. I feel like I'm losing hold of me and reality. Getting anxiety etc.
I'm sure it's some form of ptsd to some extent.

I have huge amounts of sadness because of the conflicts, the way I have been treated, the way I haven't been able to connect sexually with my wife. All of this. Lasting for many years.

I feel like many men would be able to have a good relationship with my wife as she is now. Because she has gotten better. But I can't seem to see past the past, which makes it really hard for me to enjoy things and make a fresh start.

Thanks

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Bloomie

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #34 on: August 11, 2017, 11:49:13 AM »
blahblah - Hi there. I just read through this thread and the ups/downs and myriad of emotions you are experiencing in your marriage and life. I was compelled to post when I read your question about how to develop a thicker skin... I literally used to pray for a thicker skin before I knew that having a thicker skin wasn't going to empower me to regain my rightful place in this world and move from someone who was barely surviving to someone who is thriving. I hope it is okay for me to suggest something related to your questions above...

Have you ever done much reading or info gathering around Complex PTSD? I am wondering, given the very traumatic past experiences you have had with your wife's unstable behaviors toward you and your children, if you may find some help and answers from a couple of really great resources I would like to recommend.

I found the work of Pete Walker to be sentinel in my own healing journey. Like you, some time after the worst of it in a relationship with a unstable and highly manipulative PD person, I found myself easily triggered and feeling like I had a gapping wound that simply would not heal. I found myself crying non stop, and I never cry, I am always okay, :sadno: sitting in front of a therapist in a pretty broken down state. This wise woman looked at me and said... you do realize how angry you are right? What? Me? Angry... no! I was sad, uncertain, confused... well, yes that was true, but I was also really angry, hopeless, fed up, wounded and had been stacking "shoulds" and "oughts" and me doing all the "right" things on top of all of that - and it all was tumbling down and manifesting in physical and emotional symptoms I could no longer suck it up and ignore.

Here is a link to Pete Walkers work: http://pete-walker.com/complex_ptsd_book.html
To the left of the screen you will see a list of free articles that have been eyeopening and of great help to me in unstacking all of this piled up stuff. I found his book - COMPLEX PTSD:
FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING - to be so helpful in understanding the specter that was cast over my emotional well being and psychological stability from a PD loved ones abusive, coercive, unpredictable frightening behaviors. The damage from it all was cumulative and was taking a huge toll on my life.

Another tremendous resource - if you haven't already taken a look is our sister site: Out of the Storm found here: http://www.outofthestorm.website

Here is a link to the symptoms: http://www.outofthestorm.website/symptoms/

You may want to just take a look and see if anything resonates with you and seems familiar to your own experiences.

For me, there came a point when I had to simply focus on my own healing and the wellbeing of my children. That was what I could do. The PD person, in all of their drama and trauma, good times and bad swings, was going to have to figure themselves out because I could no longer hold up under it all and had to prioritize my children and myself.

I wish you strength today and courage. All you have to do is today. If you can keep yourself from projecting too far ahead and simply stay focused on today, I have found it reduces some of the angst and anxiety. You are not alone and I am thankful you keep coming back. Take what is helpful to you that is offered here and leave the rest.
Bloomie 🌸

"You've gotta know when it's time to turn the page." Tori Amos

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142757

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #35 on: August 11, 2017, 03:14:25 PM »
Question:
How do you let go of the past?
Since things aren't as chaotic with my wife I can feel that I react more strongly to small things she does that triggers me.

I feel absolutely horrible these days. It's like an old wound that won't heal. I feel like I'm losing hold of me and reality. Getting anxiety etc.
I'm sure it's some form of ptsd to some extent.

I have huge amounts of sadness because of the conflicts, the way I have been treated, the way I haven't been able to connect sexually with my wife. All of this. Lasting for many years.

I feel like many men would be able to have a good relationship with my wife as she is now. Because she has gotten better. But I can't seem to see past the past, which makes it really hard for me to enjoy things and make a fresh start.

Thanks
ve
Remember what we said about time & wounds on the 1st page of your thread? This is the process. I don't know how much sports you watch. But there have been many times a player was injured but kept playing, sometimes at a higher level they'd never reached before, Then afterward, they find out the seriousness of their injury & they can't play the next game.

You may have gone thru something similar mentally. Adrenaline was pumping, so to speak. You were in the moment w/o time to reflect on all that was truly going on inwardly. Now the "game" is over and you can properly assess things. Now you are aware of your injuries and your senses are more acute. It's the process.

See her behavior for what it is. Realize truth isn't behind it. Her fear is. Set your boundaries. Remove yourself, bodily if you can, mentally if you can't, so that you won't have to endure her episodes. That way it won't affect you as badly.

But be honest about her progress. Sometimes we see "improvement" when actually we've just become numb. You need to be aware if her behavior is making you worse. You don't want the wounds to become permanent.
"Somedays you just can't get rid of a bomb."

Adam West (Batman)
9/19/28 - 6/10/17

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Oldguy61

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2017, 12:49:14 AM »
Question:
How do you let go of the past?
Since things aren't as chaotic with my wife I can feel that I react more strongly to small things she does that triggers me.

I feel absolutely horrible these days. It's like an old wound that won't heal. I feel like I'm losing hold of me and reality. Getting anxiety etc.
I'm sure it's some form of ptsd to some extent.

I have huge amounts of sadness because of the conflicts, the way I have been treated, the way I haven't been able to connect sexually with my wife. All of this. Lasting for many years.

I feel like many men would be able to have a good relationship with my wife as she is now. Because she has gotten better. But I can't seem to see past the past, which makes it really hard for me to enjoy things and make a fresh start.

Thanks

I've been checking back with the thread every few days. Good to see that this thread is still getting some discussion. And of course I'm glad to hear that you're doing better lately, blahblah. Anyway, concerning the subject of anger:

The book "Boundaries" talks about how people may find that they feel a lot of anger when they first get educated on boundaries. From the book:

"It's no secret that quite often, when people begin telling the truth, setting limits, and taking responsibility, an "angry cloud" follows them around for a while. They become touchy and easily offended, and they discover a hair-trigger temper that frightens them." (p. 116)

In other words, the experience of someone violating your boundaries makes you angry. That is, anger is your natural internal warning signal that a boundary violation is occurring. So with your growing consciousness of your boundaries and any ongoing violations, it means getting in touch with your anger. That can be painful initially.

Furthermore, emotions doesn't recognize time. An old injury can upset us 20 years later as much as it did at the time. Thus, people with injured boundaries may have some catching up to do. As they get in touch with their boundaries, they may re-examine old boundary violations that they didn't even register at the time and feel new anger welling up. (p. 117)

So how do you deal with the anger? Well, once you get good at establishing and protecting your boundaries, you stop the violations and you no longer have reason to get angry. Secure boundaries = happiness and health. That stops any current and future causes for anger.

What about memories of old violations of boundaries that revisit you from the past and make you angry in the present as described above? What do you do to get past that older anger?

The book "Boundaries" talks about the need to practice forgiveness. That is, you let it go and free your head of the old violations. Of course, forgiveness doesn't mean you let your guard down around that person. Forgiving isn't the same as reconciling. You can forgive someone and still keep your distance from them and distrust them, since they haven't repented or made amends. Forgiveness only requires one person; reconciliation requires two. You should forgive and move on in order to free your head, regardless of how you feel about the individual. (p. 256-7)

At the same time, the authors acknowledge that forgiveness can be tough. For example, the book emphasizes that it may be necessary to go through a grieving process in order to forgive properly. "To forgive means we will never get from that person what was owed us." (p. 268)

It also means giving up blame. When you blame people, "it says that you can never be okay until someone else changes. This is the essence of powerless blame. It may make you morally superior to that person (in your own thinking, never in reality), but it will never fix the problem."

To sum up: It's a tough balancing act, especially if you're still living with the PD partner. But basically the idea is to 1) Practice secure boundaries to remove any cause to get angry in the present and future; and 2) Cleanse your head of resentment over old boundary violations and rip-offs by your partner in the past by practicing forgiveness. Do all this, and you can attain some kind of zen state of equanimity and detachment. From there, you can evaluate clear-headedly how your boundaries are working out and where to go next.

Get rid of the old anger, set up boundaries to prevent new anger, and you'll be in a better state to evaluate and see whether the relationship is worth saving.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2017, 12:54:24 AM by Oldguy61 »

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blahblah

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #37 on: August 13, 2017, 03:28:11 PM »
Thanks everyone. I read your new comments today, and they really helped! I will def. check out cptsd. I don't have much time now, but I just want to say THANK YOU! to everyone replying to this thread. Will write more later:)

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blahblah

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2017, 03:54:33 AM »
Thanks everyone. I have some more time now.

Luckily, yesterday morning i felt absolutely empty (aka no pit in stomach). It is such an amazig feeling waking up and feel "clear" and having no worries. Then it dawns on me that i'm a highly creative person ( i used to write and record music), because I started sensing things on a deeper level... as in how things smell, look, feel etc. And on top of that i just felt so much joy because i was just "me". Thats how i always felt in the past (before my marriage).

The feeling started to disappear during the day. Probably because of normal stress etc.
Today was pretty standard, as in a pit in the stomach, but no feelings of anxiety etc.
But your posts about boundaries and cptsd def. make sense.

This is from the "out of the storm" symptoms page:

Symptoms Shared by CPTSD and PTSD

According to Cloitre et al (2016), CPTSD shares three main symptoms with PTSD which include:


    Re-experiencing the past – in the form of nightmares and flashbacks. While in PTSD flashbacks tend to be visual, in CPTSD they are often emotional.  That is,  a sudden, overwhelming rush of emotions such as anger, shame, humiliation, abandonment, and of being small and powerless much like a child would feel when abused.  These are referred to as Emotional Flashbacks (EFs). and can last for minutes, hours or even days (Walker, 2013) .


I definently have those. When I feel like i'm doing mental progress (setting boundaries, etc), all of the sudden old things can come back and I get overwhelmed, angry, sad or whatever feeling is connected with that specific memory.


     Sense of threat - constantly on guard or hypervigilant, strong startle reaction
OH YES! I think stuffing anger/not speaking up (which I am getting better at), is one big cause of my pit in the stomach. But ALWAYS being on my guard is just as big of a problem.

     Avoidance - of thoughts, feelings, people, places, activities relating to the trauma (e.g., dissociation, derealization)
Hmmm maybe. I avoid expressing things that might upset my wife, but I am getting better at that as well, but it's still a problem i think.
I dont avoid places, activites... Well, I have bad feelings associated with being intimite with my wife, because of all the problems she has had with it.




Symptoms of CPTSD Only

Cloitre et al (2014) suggest that CPTSD differs from PTSD in that it has three additional symptoms:

    Emotion regulation – Emotional sensitivity; reduced ability to respond to situations in an emotionally appropriate and flexible manner

I dont't fully understand what this means. I have problems connecting with my anger, and often sugar coat problems at work etc, and just ignore them. But that isnt nec. a bad thing. Once it starts to build up inside me, THEN it's definently a bad thing. I don't really know about this symptom. I have some things i can do better, but don't feel like have any core issues with this


    Negative self-concept - Feeling of worthlessness and defectiveness. Walker suggests that those with CPTSD suffer from toxic shame and have a virulent Inner and Outer Critic.

I don't really feel worthless or defective. I know that I'm actually a very "good" person. In other relationships, i tend to help out, support and do good. I am good at expressing myself verbally and in writing etc (English isn't my first language, I'm Danish, so please ignore typos here;).. So I don't really connect with the description of "Negative Self-concept".



    Interpersonal problems - Difficulty feeling close to another person; feeling disconnected, distant or cut off from other people (depersonalization, social anxiety). 


Meeh... No so much, I think. I feel connected to other people. I'm generally a very "warm" person. I don't mind hugging/touching etc. I don't feel like the above applies to me.


Thanks for the links! I had no idea this forum existed! (out of the storm).

I will be talking to my therapist next week, and one of the topics i want to talk about will definently be how to "calm back down" after this whole thing. Because my body doesnt really know how to do it anymore. CPTSD will be something I will ask her about.

Thanks everyone. *PLEASE* comment if you feel like it. Sometimes your comments literally makes my day bearable. (no preassure thoug!)

:)
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 04:00:45 AM by blahblah »

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Bloomie

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Re: A couple of questions
« Reply #39 on: August 15, 2017, 08:58:42 AM »
Quote
I will be talking to my therapist next week, and one of the topics i want to talk about will definently be how to "calm back down" after this whole thing. Because my body doesnt really know how to do it anymore. CPTSD will be something I will ask her about.

Really wise to talk through the way things are manifesting physically for you with your T and all of your questions and concerns. We can offer support and encouragement here, but nothing can take the place of face to face interaction with a skilled therapist. So thankful you have that in your life as you sort through the things that are triggering you.

Keep taking those healing steps forward! Just as the trauma is cumulative in the affect it has on us, I have found that every step I take toward health, healing, wholeness is cumulative as well and adds up in a really good way in our hearts and lives. Peace to you today!
Bloomie 🌸

"You've gotta know when it's time to turn the page." Tori Amos