33 year old guy, 3 young sons, just separated from BPD wife. Feeling pretty sad.

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peter priesthood

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I'm a 33 year old guy, father of 3 young sons, who is married to a woman whom I suspect has BPD. We separated 3 days ago, and it was one of the most painful things that I've ever gone through. By far the hardest part was picking my sons up from school early so that I could have some private time with them and explain, while choking back sobs, that even though they would be living with their mom, that I was still their father and would always be their father, and that I loved them and would always be there for them.

The actual separation was very sudden, although it had been building for a long time. She had been making threats that she would leave me if I didn't change my opinion that she had BPD, and then when her thought policing did not have the desired effect, she switched to a new tactic. She said that I must care for the house and the children by myself for the next several days since she normally has that responsibility, and that she would just sit around and take a break during that time. She said if I refused, she would leave.

I replied that I was more than willing to help her care for the children, but I would not be doing 100% of the work while she sat around. She said she would leave then, so I called her bluff. She packed her stuff, but when it got to the moment of truth and it was time to go, she recanted and started begging me to change my mind. Classic hovering, in my opinion. Anyway, I had read all about this tactic, and knew her promises wouldn't last, and so I told her that I thought we needed some time apart. Hardening my heart like that was probably the second toughest thing I've ever done.

She's now living with her sister, in a state that's about 6 hours away. I feel so, so, so sad that my kids aren't here with me. Tonight, while I was talking to them on Skype, she cut it short because she said her sister's family was doing something and everyone was waiting on the son I was talking with then.

At this point, I'm pretty much at her mercy as to how she facilitates my communication with my sons. I didn't think she would play games and use my time with my sons as a tool to get back at me, but maybe I was wrong.

Obviously, the situation is much more complex than this, and there's been a ton of crazy things that she has done. Of course, she always says it's my fault, though.

Anyone else on here with kids who live with their BPD-ex? Does the pain get better? Any tips on making long-distance relationships with children work? Any advice in general?

Thanks for reading.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

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Latchkey

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Hi peter priesthood,

Welcome to OOTF. I am sorry you are going through this. I guess it is a little confusing to offer advice because you say you separated only 3 days ago and she is now living with her sister. How old are your sons? Are any of them school age?
In the US they would be back in elementary school this week so are they now enrolled in school?

I would strongly recommend you start talking with an attorney and figure out what your options are. Look at the web sites of Bill Eddy and High Conflict Institute as well as the Separating and Divorcing links on this site for more help with finding a good attorney.

It sounds like maybe this was a rash decision on her part and not well planned (but maybe it was planned for a while and I am missing something) so be prepared for anything that may happen. Also, if her sister tires of her living there then likely she will be back in the marital home.

Please check out the Separating and Divorcing, Non- Dad's, Co-Parenting, and Chosen Relationships forums below for more help and advice as you go on. We are here for you!

All the best,
Latchkey

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peter priesthood

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Hey Latchkey,

Thanks for the response. To answer your questions, my sons are ages 4, 9, and 13. She tells me she's trying to get them enrolled in school there, and they will likely start school sometime next week.

I think this was BOTH a rash decision AND she had been planning it for a while. She had been raising the specter of separation as a manipulation tactic for quite some time. Over Christmas break (I'm a grad student), we were originally going to my parent's house, which is about a 9 hr drive away, but she got upset over the issue of which day we should depart and yelled and cried before locking herself in our room for a couple of days while I cared for the children. (This was after I had told her I didn't care which day we left and that she could pick, but was finally forced to choose a day after she kept saying she wanted to know my opinion  :-\)

Anyway, after that incident I started doing some searching and discovered BPD, went to the library and checked out Walking on Eggshells, and began to set limits with her, which she didn't like, of course, because my normal response to her hateful behavior had been to try to smooth things over. I also made the mistake of telling her I thought she had BPD, which gave her something new to fixate upon. Since that time, which was around Thanksgiving, she has told me that if I don't stop thinking she had BPD, she would have to leave me. She even took me with her to see her therapist in an effort to convince me she doesn't have BPD. (Her therapist has never diagnosed BPD, and says that the wife has 'Other Unspecified Depressive Disorder')

She ended up not going with me to my parent's house, and instead took the kids to her sister's house, so we spent about 2 weeks around Christmas apart. I'm pretty sure she began planning details of a separation while there, but I think she wasn't really committed to it as anything more than a manipulation strategy because when the time finally came for her to leave, she recanted and made all sorts of promises.

When she left three days ago, I got the key to our apartment and her bank card from her. I also gave her my key to the vehicle and withdrew half of our funds and gave them to her, at her behest. So, as far as I'm concerned, the assets are divided and we're not getting back together. I spoke with a lawyer that the school offers to students the day after she left, but he said he couldn't offer me much advice, and gave me some recommendations for other lawyers to speak with.

I guess I'm most concerned about having a relationship with my children. When it came down to the day she was going to leave, she said that she was going to leave and not take the kids. I'm pretty sure she said this as another manipulation tactic, because she knows school starts for me tomorrow and I would have to scramble to find child care. (My wife is a stay at home mom) At first I panicked, but then my parents said they could keep the children for me while I was in school, and I could come see them during breaks. I thought this was a pretty good solution, but when my wife heard about it, she insisted that she take the kids. I begged her to let me keep them, but she threatened to call the law and said that the law would almost certainly side with the mother; I agreed with her assessment. Now she and the kids are 6 hrs away.

I think the best possible scenario at this time would be for us to reach an amicable agreement on dissolution of marriage, child support, and visitation. I've been married to her for close to 11 years now, and while a lot of it has been good, especially at the beginning, things have been bad for the last several years. My parents are happy that we're finally apart, and have been a great source of support during this trying time. If I can get through this, I don't plan on going back. I think I'm done with the institution of marriage, at least for a while.

Thanks for the advice already given and any more that can be given!

peter priesthood
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

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closure_with_clarity

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When she left three days ago, I got the key to our apartment and her bank card from her. I also gave her my key to the vehicle and withdrew half of our funds and gave them to her, at her behest. So, as far as I'm concerned, the assets are divided and we're not getting back together. I spoke with a lawyer that the school offers to students the day after she left, but he said he couldn't offer me much advice, and gave me some recommendations for other lawyers to speak with.

Hi priesthood and welcome to OOTF. You'll find the place a wealth of information and support. You'll want to visit the separating and divorcing forum for you'll get great feedback and suggestions from many seasoned members like latchkey. These folks have walked in your married to having to leave a pd shoes and can offer sound advice.

I normally contribute to the Non-chosen discussions for I'm not married to a pd. But, both he and I come from toxic and dysfunctional FOO back grounds. We know what it is like trying to deal w/ the chaos, drama, and crazy making pd's create for we get it from both sides. But, I'd like to offer you some prudent advice. 1. Be extremely cautious and careful from here on out when dealing with and giving anything to your wife, including money. Withdrawing cash and just handing it to her leaves you vulnerable. You have no paper trail and way of proving you gave her the funds. It becomes a he said she said situation in the eyes of the law.

2. Find and consult with a divorce lawyer STAT, preferably one that has experience and a solid background in dealing w/ a toxic, narcissistic, vindictive spouse. Divorce can be difficult even in the best of situations and dealing with a non pd spouse. Factor in a suspected pd and you're walking in a mine field, which is why you need legal council...someone that will help you navigate the mind field and look out for yours and your children's best interest.

3. Familarize yourself with the OOTF tabs and features. You'll find the toolbox and resources a wealth of enlightening info:

http://outofthefog.website/toolbox-intro/

Talking to kids about personality disorders
http://outofthefog.website/what-to-do-2/2015/12/5/talking-to-kids

4. You'll find that a professional therapist will help tremendously too as you begin the journey OOTF and begin working on yourself.

Again, welcome to OOTF and I wish you wellness and peace on your journey :bighug:

CWC



Let go of the people that dull your shine. Poison your spirit. And bring you drama. Cancel your subscription to their issues.  :)

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peter priesthood

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closure_with_clarity,

Thanks for the advice. When I gave her the cash, I sent her a text where I asked her to confirm the amount she received, and she did. So, better than nothing, I suppose.

I plan on seeing a lawyer soon. She took our vehicle with her, but my sister is lending me her car starting on the 15th, so I'll be able to drive to meet with one then.

I'll check out the separating and divorcing forum, as you recommended. It's good knowing that there are other people out there who have been in similar situations.

peter priesthood
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

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kiwihelen

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Peter, also register with a Shrink4Men as we have guys who have gained custody over there and they know how to work within the system

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peter priesthood

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Thanks for the tip. I just registered.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

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Latchkey

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Hi peter,

Others have given you some great advice and I have to log off but wanted to check back before I started my day this morning.

It sounds like you are in the early stages but have a good perspective and have been doing your homework. It's a marathon not a sprint as they say. Please be prepared legally and with good support (finding a T would be a good idea too) for the upcoming weeks and months as much as you can be. Take breaks from researching BPD and focus on you.
There are some good books like "stop caretaking the borderline or narcissist" (see in book reviews below) that can help you focus more on your part in the dynamic.
Be careful of "always and never" statements and writing off marriage etc. It's important to make a list and keep crossing off and adding to it. Keep documenting. Put everything in email. Record conversations if it's legal in your state. Take video as well on pick ups and drop offs.


Latchkey
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
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There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
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When we have the courage to do what we need to do, we unleash mighty forces that come to our aid.

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Sunny

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Hi peter, what seems to me most needs to be addressed is your parental rights. I am going through a divorce with a PDh and the first to file in my state (CA) sets the tone with the request for custody (joint physical, legal, etc). I would take some time to read those forms online for your state and see what feels right to you. If you file first she can counter, and be aware that the courts will look at what's ongoing (they are with her now) and if you'd like more time, perhaps offer to go get them for the upcoming long weekend, or meet them halfway and stay in a fun location at a motel, to establish a presence.

I worry about this constantly as I have joint 50/50 but have been letting my PDh hoover me into allowing our DD to spend more time with him because HE kept the family home (grrr) and of course it's her comfort zone.

Also don't write off the idea of her and the kids coming back to your area. I believe in my state also what she did would be an illegal move away. Since I served my h, he talked about moving to "the beach" which is about 20 miles away and my attorney informed me he would have to get permission from the court, which is rarely granted as it's 1/2 way thru her junior year.

Therefore, perhaps moving rather rapidly and crying foul at some of he nonsense may at least serve to buy you more time with the kids and get her to cooperate if not move closer. You have some power in this situation and your boys will recognize that you are fighting for them!! --Sunny

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Healing Dad

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Peter,

You sound really with it. Excellent. Your title said feeling pretty sad; I'm sure you are, but at least it sounds as if you have your wits still.

The way you describe your wife could be words from my mouth. She pulls the 'quit' routine regularly - anything not go exactly her way she'd quit. What a pain. Mine also especially got awful when it was becoming clear she had a PD. I didn't know either and told her - whew, not going back from that although we tried so long damage hit all parties. Don't EVER mention the PD thing - they cannot change or get better; there is nothing but awful results resulting from saying anything.

You have a very difficult path ahead. First of all, do you allow your wife to run off with your kids and for you to lose meaningful relationships with them? Or do you make your top priority your kids. I have made DD14 my top priority. It would have been much easier to walk away - my wife has done all she can to hurt our relationship. Personally, there can be no question - to the last fiber in my body I will and have fought for the right to have a relationship with DD. You Peter can expect such a fight also. Expect false allegations. Expect to be alienated from your kids. Expect your wife to mess you up any way she can, ever if requires that the kids get hurt too. Never underestimate how low she will go to hurt you and to win - and winning for them means making you lose.

On the bright side, if you play your hand correctly, there is no reason you cannot have a full and healthy relationship with your kids. But you'll have to fight each stage.

How bad is your wife? Will she self destruct? One kinda general plan that seems to be pretty effective is to allow the CB to mess up while coming across as the contrast, responsible party. Will she drink while driving the kids? It's a biggie; would be a shame if she got arrested for that.

Man, I'm there with you. Older, but in similar shape - and that you have three! You can do it. There is very little support for excluding you as a dad if you live close. If she goes off the rails, you'll need to be ready to be primary parent.

Please keep posting. You are in the right places. HD

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peter priesthood

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Thanks all for the advice. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. This past week or so has been kind of crazy. First of all, my brother and sister drove 9 hrs. each way to see me this past weekend, and my sister let me borrow her car until I can get another one. My siblings are really great.

The wife said she wanted to come back and get a few things she had left at the house, so she drove here with the kids last Saturday as well. (I would take them back on Mon) My parents advised me not to let her in the house so as to avoid the situation of her claiming everything and leaving me with nothing, or either an argument developing over what she got to take. So, I took all her stuff and put it outside on the sidewalk. When she got here, my brother escorted the kids inside through the backdoor while I told her that the situation. She was not happy and called me ridiculous, but eventually loaded up her stuff and left.

30 minutes later, my sister got a text from my wife saying that if we wouldn't let her in, she would call the cops. Long story short, she ended up calling the cops, and I agreed to let her come in and give the place a once over, with the understanding that if there was a disagreement about the ownership of a particular item, it would be documented but stay in the apartment. She got a few of her things that I had missed and finally left, for real this time.

Now there's a new development in the saga. The wife has started to be really, really nice to me. I get texts or e-mails from her almost daily telling me that she's thinking of me and that she loves me. She's started participating in group chats with my family. (So far, my family has just ignored her messages, though) Classic hoovering. However, in not one message have I seen an admission that she has a serious problem. The most she's said is "I want us to go to couple's counseling to work on OUR problems." This is code for YOU are to blame for my unhappiness.

Anyway, I have no interest in continuing a relationship with her. I can't go through the hell of living with her again, and I certainly can't go through the hell of separating again. I'm not sure if I would even have the strength to do it again. And I believe yo-yo'ing the kids around like that would be worse than had we just made a clean break. The problem is I don't know how to tell her no. Or, more specifically, I really, really dread the idea of writing that e-mail, and I'm not sure exactly how to word it so as to get her to stop hoovering me but not provoke a vindictive reaction from her. I was never really good with break-ups, I suppose; I despise breaking someone's heart and would probably "ghost" her were children not involved.

Thanks for all the advice so far. To answer a few questions that were brought up: my wife doesn't drink; in fact, she had a big problem with me socially drinking before we separated, but that's a story for another day. As far as self-destructing goes, I have no idea how bad she could get. I don't think she would self-harm, though.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2016, 02:27:47 PM by peter priesthood »
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

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practical

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Hi, this is a very difficult situation, try to take your time till you have figured out how you want to handle telling your wife. Her behavior is not uncommon, it is called Push and Pull, you can look up more information in the glossary http://outofthefog.website/glossary/. For tips on how to tell her, you might want to pose that question on the "Separating and Divorcing" board http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?board=8.0, where you will find a lot of people who have walked where you are going and might be able to share their insights with you.
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Packy

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One of my biggest obstacles is thinking I have the power to affect someone with a PD on the heart-breaking or emotional level. Thinking they're like a normal person has caused me all kinds of problems, as I project my own feelings onto them. IMO, most PDs do not have the emotional aptitude a normal person does and do not feel things the same way. Just IMO, yours may differ, but this has caused me to walk softly so as not to hurt them and instead gave them even more leeway and time to hurt me.

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Still_Processing

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I'm sobbing for you, and for those boys - my god they must be so messed up right now .  . you're in the right place. They are SO BLESSED to have a Dad that loves them..
« Last Edit: January 23, 2016, 08:00:20 PM by Still_Processing »
"The axe forgets, but the tree remembers." African proverb.

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Healing Dad

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Without knowing your wife, it's hard to have much of a feel. There are two opposite poles of reaction. You wish to avoid - you want it to be over so any thing you do that allows closeness won't work. BUT you also do not wish to create WWIII. Totally understandable and familiar to many.

It's a psychopath thing - the very dangerous jilted lover.

It is the exact situation grey rock is meant to handle. It's really hard but the best.

Here's another way that has worked for me - tell her it's about you and not about her. Tell her you need a little time to work on yourself. That it is unfair for her and the kids to live in an unhappy environment. Tell her that you believe in her and in her sacred path and that you honor that path and dedicate yourself to her realizing her whole and full self. That you commit yourself to being the best parallel parent that you can and that you will always love her - just at a secure distance now. If the situation lends itself, I'll try to also deliver chocolate and flowers, just for effect.

Mainly though, don't go back and second assure your relationship with the kids. Best to you. HD

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40 Years

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I second what Healing Dad said, make your response to your BPD wife all about you.  You need time to work on yourself, you want to be the best partner you can be, the past few months have been horrible for you, you need to focus on establishing a strong, loving relationship with your children, no matter what happens between you and the stbxBPDw.  Given time, the ex will move on to her next hoover tactic.  Be prepared for it. 

I would like to also second what others have said in their responses, please make sure your children know that they are a priority.  They must be hurting so much, and be so confused right now.  As a mom to a (now) adult son (who has a NPD dad that I divorced when my son was 12), and a step-mom to a 16.5 y.o. daughter  (who also has a BPD bio-mom), I have learned that your relationship to your kids is absolutely critical.  They need to know that you are there for them, that you are a solid person (not prone to manipulative head games where the child is used as a pawn to serve the parent's needs), you love them for whom they are, and that they matter to you. 

I am so glad you have found this website!  There is incredible support here, and amazing stories of people surviving life with a PD spouse and/or parent.  Good luck, my friend!


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peter priesthood

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I appreciate the response. My wife truly is trying every Hoover tactic in the book. She now sends me daily texts or emails telling me how much he loves me. Yesterday, she even wrote a long email to my parents Imploring them to intervene on her behalf. Often, she invokes the kids in her messages to me, in an effort to tug at my heartstrings.

However, I have not got the feeling from any of her communications that she recognizes she has a problem. She's learned to control her yelling; a couple hundred miles of distance makes yelling ineffective, anyway. What she's replaced it with, is a dogged determination.

I just composed a letter that I intended to send to her, but now I'm thinking maybe that's not a good idea. Who knows how she'll react? The sad thing is I can no longer predict her behavior. I think I will post a letter on the unsent letters  forum.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

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kiwihelen

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Peter, a lawyer is the next step. Unfortunately the family court likes maintaining a status quo so the sooner they are returned to your care at their old schools the better. New schools for any amount of time and they become "status quo".

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Healing Dad

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Peter, a lawyer is the next step. Unfortunately the family court likes maintaining a status quo so the sooner they are returned to your care at their old schools the better. New schools for any amount of time and they become "status quo".

PLEASE listen to KH on this. She is spot on. HD

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peter priesthood

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So, I spoke to a lawyer the other day. His recommendation was that I  file for divorce immediately. He said that if I wanted custody, it would be absolutely essential to file before she does. However, I don't know if having custody is something that is feasible for me. I am a first-year graduate student in a very intense program. My parents and family all lives about a day's drive away. I have no way of taking care of my kids during school. My parents have generously offered to take care of my kids while I go to school, but I'm not sure that this is best for the kids, and I'm not sure that a judge would award custody to me knowing that the kids would just go to my parents house. I don't believe the kids are in harms way at my wife's house, but it is true that she doesn't give them much attention. However, while we lived together, they did not get much attention from her either. At this point, the only reason I see for getting a divorce is if we cannot come to an agreement on a dissolution of marriage, or if she prevents me  from seeing my children. I do wonder, however, if I filed for divorce, to the judge forced my wife to move back to our state? As it is now, she lives a 6 Hour drive away, which is seriously hinders my ability to see my kids on a regular basis.

 I suppose if it were not for the issue of cost, I would go the route of filing for divorce. However, expense is unfortunately an issue. The retainer alone for a divorce case is $2500, I'm living on a $1600 a month stipend and I have practically no assets.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl