Are we doomed to repeat history?

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Kit99

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Are we doomed to repeat history?
« on: March 30, 2016, 11:38:50 PM »
For those with kids, I wonder if you've considered any of the following...

A lot of PDs grew up in dysfunctional families or with parents who were somehow abusive, addicted, etc. Often, despite their claims to be "different from their family" or that they will "never make the same mistakes as their parents" the PD ends up doing exactly that to their own spouse and children- repeating history.

How do we stop the cycle with our own children? Won't they be damaged by divorce and having a PD parent? Or if we stay, will the damage be more or less than if we leave? As any parent, I want such a bright and happy future for my kids and I feel like they are already at such a disadvantage- and they are very young!

How can we as the non-PD parents help to minimize the damage? How can we set them up to have healthy relationships as adults and to one day become good examples as parents (if they have children of their own)?

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kiwihelen

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2016, 12:40:24 AM »
It starts with deciding to value yourself enough to leave an abusive relationship. It continues by working on and letting your kids see you setting boundaries and making better choices. It may involve setting boundaries on your own children's unacceptable behaviour and sticking with rules that uphold your core values.
It is about validation of your children's experience of their PD parent in age appropriate ways.
Last of all it is teaching them they have choices too and can change even as adults.

My SO has had 6 years of hell with a uPDex. his Eldest was successfully alienated and by sticking to boundaries including telling her to leave once after they were reconciled because of unacceptable behaviour, they are a long way towards a full reconciliation. We are hugely frustrated by the family court being disingenuous with Youngest but she's regularly reminded of her choices. Now if she is put in the middle of a conflict by her mother we ask her about how she feels and what she wants to do to resolve matters. We said she was right to be upset enough to challenge her mother after the latest alienation attempts.
I don't think she will OOTF until she's an adult and if we need to fund therapy, we will find a way.

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Sunny

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2016, 05:51:48 PM »
Whew, not sure what to say, but my DD16 is starting to throw me a few bones, by "noticing" things her dad did that she is not cool with. I validate her feelings and try to tell her how I saw the situation at the time and tried to influence things in my own way, and wasn't always able to. This, I hope, gives her the message that  her opinions and needs should be considered in a future r/s, as she knows her dad and I are parting ways, although we still see each other at the shared home (as little as I can manage).

I think she is examining her history with a clear eye as she gets close to leaving the nest. I also have given her messages about knowing her own boundaries with friends, classmates, and boys.  If you want to see my "hazing" post, you will know that for teens this is not always easy and they can become prey to older predatory kids in frats, social clubs, and at school, which shocked and appalled me. However I have talked openly as each of these opportunities arose about how I had high expectations for her to come into her own and own her power :)!!

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RunningFree

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2016, 02:11:54 AM »
There's no such thing as perfect parents.  We strive to do the best we can, and even when we do, our kids will find a fault, something missing in their childhoods.  The best we can do is strive to set a good example for how to live.  Treat others with respect, love those around us, make sure our kids know they are loved.
We're not in perfect, or even in good situations.  I think this is good for kids, to see the bad and the good.  I remember, as I got to college and started experiencing lots of other people, that it seemed the most dysfunctional people were those from a "normal" family who never had to deal with anything difficult.  The most well-adjusted people were those who survived some amount of adversity.
Everyone comes out of childhood and into adult/parent hood with a list of "mistakes I'll not repeat".  But the nature of life means that you'll make other ones instead.
Love your kids.  Show them how to stand up for themselves.  They'll be OK.
When going through Hell, keep going.

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mdana

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2016, 07:52:49 PM »
The absolute BEST way to help your children NOT repeat the same (old) family patterns related to PD and PD families is ...
to get help yourself (the non) and establish a healthy way of living, healthy relationships, loving life grounded in "reality".  Total reality (painful as it may be). Authentic ... truth. 

There is a reason why we Non's migrate to PD's.  The reason is ...we are unhealthy too.  Not in the same toxic ways, but we perpetuate those patterns by going along with it, looking the other way, minimizing it, blaming it all on the PD.  By not understanding the ways in which we contribute, we actually contribute to the harm, the ongoing patterns which keep our children "in the fog".  Our children then in turn, grow up with unhealthy slants on reality and either 1. marry a PD or 2. become the PD. 


There is no easy way out ... I love this quote by Carl Jung:

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”


― C.G. Jung
M
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. The Dalai Lama

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Kit99

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2016, 02:38:41 PM »
You've all made some excellent points. I find myself feeling responsible or guilty for some circumstances that are not really in my control.

For example, I am saddened by the fact that they will need to grow up with divorced parents and a "broken family," But if I were to stay in our marriage, I think they would be hurt by the PD dynamics and would likely form unhealthy relationships and boundaries of their own as a result.

I guess there isn't an easy answer. I think my biggest worry is that by divorcing, I am doing more harm to them than would be done in staying.


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mdana

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2016, 02:49:49 PM »
Kit...

I know that's your biggest worry (I have read your other posts).  Do you see a solid, skilled, experienced therapist? 
Do you know the underlying reason why you believe ...that divorce would damage them more?

Sometimes, our belief systems and/or conditioning from our upbringing need some updating.  I made a list once of all the things I learned from my FOO (I called them myths).  AND, then worked on understanding and updating them.  I realized that out of the 2 page list, only 1 or 2 things were actually true.  Here are a few:

1. no one will love you or fight for you more than I will (my mom would say this)
2. kin is kin...we have to support and forgive everything/anything with kin
3. there are no "real" friends in the world, everyone will abandon you when the chips are down
4. never tell anyone how you really feel (not even a spouse or partner)--people will always use things against you
5. divorce is bad, kids really need their dad more than anything
6. drinking isn't that bad, and no young person should ever have to face a life without some drinking fun
7. don't expect any man to ever be faithful to you over the course of a marriage (lifetime) it's just not possible or realistic...men simply can't do it
8. if you misbehave, you deserve to be punished
9. whenever anything bad happens, it's because you deserved it. you must have done something wrong right before that

SO MANY !

M
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. The Dalai Lama

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Kit99

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2016, 08:48:15 PM »
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, M. I am seeing a psych and that helps a bit but when I'm alone with my thoughts they always focus on our marriage, family, and how much I miss many aspects of my H. I do NOT miss the chaos and volatility that the PD brought into our lives at times. I don't miss being controlled, manipulated, guilted, etc.

I think you are right that our belief systems and/or conditioning significantly influence our relationships and decisions. I've thought about my background quite a bit to understand how I got here and why I'm having such a hard time with the idea of divorce. I think a lot of my identity lies in being a part of a family, a wife and a mother. I grew up in a nuclear family and I believe in the sanctity of marriage and family. It's what I value most in life.

It's hard divorcing someone you love. My mind tells me it's the right thing to do, but my heart breaks as a result. I need to remind myself that he isn't capable of being the husband and father that we need. He blames the situation on anyone but himself and wouldn't be in therapy if it weren't court ordered because "he's not the issue." I'm trying to forget about all the good things that I love about him and the happy memories we have shared. As you all know, those are the things that hurt the most.

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mdana

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2016, 09:23:45 PM »
Yes... of course... There had to have been some good things, or you would have never married to begin with.  I value family greatly too, but not more than my sanity....and certainly not more than the welfare and sanity of my children.  No amount of good qualities and 'love' are worth risking or endangering any parts of ourselves in that way IMO.

How we define "love" is also an interesting thing to reflect on.  How much attachment and deep genuine love can there be between 2 people that don't 'meet' on mutual terms? mutual ground? mutual sharing... mutual vulnerability?  Or if 1 person is reckless, abusive, volatile, intoxicated? How does one truly grow in a loving relationship in the absence of trust, respect, honestly and growth? 

When I sit back (now that I have grown more deeply) and think about how much love there was between my ex and myself ... I have come to see things differently.  I was more "in love" with the idea of family ... with the idea and hope of ...with the feeling of safety one assumes when we are in partnerships ... But, our love never really grew very deeply.  It's not possible to grow in love deeply ...when 1 person is unavailable, unable, too impaired... (just my opinion of course)...


M

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. The Dalai Lama

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Rocket Girl

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2016, 09:47:48 PM »
You said it very well, mdana.
- Rocket Girl

I will take my broken heart any day over his lack of one.

You don't have to be hit to be hurt.

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Kit99

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2016, 11:52:03 PM »
M- As always, your insight is very much appreciated. You make some great points that I need to remember. In my mind I keep downplaying the PD issues or tell myself that "maybe it's not as bad as I'm making it." But I know it was worse. I know I felt absolutely drained physically and emotionally and that my wellbeing and that of my kids has been negatively impacted. I know that even now, after months of separation, I feel like a shadow of my former self. That doesn't happen to people in "healthy" relationships.

I keep remembering our life/relationship the first few years of our courtship and marriage - I was the happiest I've ever been. It's hard to let go of that life, but I need to accept that although it was "real love" for me, it was only mirroring and idealization from my H, and inevitably the devaluation and discard had to follow. No one tells you about these things when you're dating and looking for a spouse... I thought I found the man of my dreams. 

How did you let to of that dream?  I see all the happy families and couples my age and it makes me so sad. How can this be my life? How could I have been such a poor judge of character?

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mdana

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2016, 03:07:40 AM »
I think a few things happen Kit (this is only my view and based on my experience.  I am not a relationship expert, but have spent a number of years searching for answers and thinking about how not to repeat the past!). 

First, when we are young ...we believe in "happily ever after".  We are filled with hope, love, energy ... and we fall in love believing that "love conquers all" (which sadly, isn't quite how it works).  We often go into marriage not realizing that love starts with a spark (which is really a surge of chemical hormones given to us by mother nature) but not necessarily true love.  The spark then begins to fade (as our hormones dissipate) and then...we are called to "grow in love".  In my view, the substance of true and real love, occurs after the hormones have dissipated and is built stone upon stone ... through mutual hard work and growth. Many people with PD's are "addicted to love".  Meaning, they are addicted to the hormonal surges that happen in physical attraction and interpret that is being "in love".  It is an intoxicating "high"....feels wonderful, but NEVER lasts. 

So, after everyone's hormones are back to normal, we are left with reality ...or 2 people with character flaws, the stress and mundaneness of everyday life, kids that have to be fed, bills that must be paid... the usual.  For non's  (those without PD's) this leads us to ...grow our love, because marriage/partnerships require work.  We rise to the occasion having both a willingness and capacity to grow as a couple.  The key word here is capacity. Here's where PD's fall out again -- often, they have a limited capacity to grow "in love" because they are not relational.  They have great difficulty facing their own darkness, vulnerabilities, and flaws (so they deny they have any).  They often lack capacity to be accountable, have empathy, engage in truthful dialogue.  They lack maturity, seek immediate gratification, and have poor impulse control.  They often can't "see" anyone else's needs or concerns because they are too self absorbed (too wounded... too limited).

In healthy marriages/relationships, both adults have varying capacities to grow and become more relational.  There is no perfect couple, perfectly healthy marriage, but with willingness and even some capacity, the relationship can grow and love can deepen into a truly meaningful and beautiful state of being. 

Beyond that ... I have also realized that how I defined "love" and "healthy" relationship was twisted to begin with (when I was younger).  Having come from a dysfunctional family (NPDm, and alcoholic dad) I subconsciously learned that "love" meant I was supposed to "take care" of others and forever sacrifice for the good of the whole (just like my dad did for my mom). My FOO was chaotic and unstable, just like my marriage, and there was emotional/physical abuse.  All of which at the time didn't seem so bad to me.  We tend to minimize and normalize what we are exposed to over time.  But (in both families) I was also told "it's not that bad..." "stop exaggerating".  So ... eventually, we erode and learn to deny and self-abandon.

I guess what I am saying Kit...is I believe there are varying contributing factors as to why we ended up with a PD partner.  It was likely not just that you mis-judged... and even if that were the case for you, don't minimize the fact that you were under the influenced of youth, hormones, and the charm and manipulative spell of the PD (all pretty powerful undercurrents). 

I have not let my dream go kit.  I have just understood that "real" love can never happen with my ex, the father of my children because he is too limited, toxic and emotionally/mentally ill. I am also now, more realistic about what to look for in a potential life partner. I guess one could say, I no longer see things so innocently (but that's a good thing).  I wholeheartedly believe in LOVE and hope to one day find a life partner,  someone that is more like me: willing, capable and open hearted. 

I hope you feel better kit... Your life can get better...this doesn't have to be the end of your happiness or family.  There are other ways to see it and maybe this is a good time for you to focus on what's deep inside of yourself... find your inner happiness and peace.  Then ... rebuild and find a truly loving partner ...one that can grow with you ...Does that sound like something that could happen for you?


XOXOXO 

M
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. The Dalai Lama

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mdana

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2016, 03:33:28 AM »
Oh...and you are right in that no one tells us any of these things when we are younger and really need to know. But, of me, my FOO was so in the Fog, that they would not have recognized the pathology any way! 

I think it's good that you remember the "good" memories related to the early days in your marriage. But, I also think that if you don't remember the "bad" memories too, you may get confused about the whole reality...kinda like seeing things through 'rose' colored glasses.

Sometimes, we are taught to only see "the good" in people because we are supposed to be positive, give people a break, recognize that no one is perfect.  But, I think it's better to see both ...the "good" and the "bad" or .... just seeing what "is".

XOXOX
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. The Dalai Lama

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kiwihelen

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2016, 12:24:39 PM »
Kit, my SO has almost no good memories of being married to his uPD.  Yet he would tell you this woman also have him the thing he values most - his daughters.
Rather than trying to change something that didn't improve after 16 years of trying (and that trying was genuine and cost us 5 years together because he and I went NC to give his marriage a chance) he left so he could become the best damn sole parent he could.
This is no fairytale ending we have an ongoing fight to get his daughters the help they need with a toxic mother - but his girls now know that their FOO is not the only way to live.

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Kit99

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2016, 09:24:28 PM »
M- Everytime I read a post from you I take away some new found wisdom. It is apparent that you've been through these challenges and have developed an amazing sense of self, understanding and acceptance of what a PD is and is not, and you have a positive outlook and attitude.

I'm still working on wrapping my head around the whole situation and accepting that I can't make it better. I don't want my children to develop PDs or see those behaviors as normal/healthy (to your point about environmental norms). I know I can't control life but I feel I owe it to my kids to provide them with a loving, stable and healthy home.

Helen- I can see myself doing the same as your SO in spends big years trying to save the marriage, fix the PD and be the best parent I can be. Like your SO, it's hard to regret the marriage when it resulted in my greatest joys in life (our children).

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healingnow

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2016, 09:49:25 PM »
This is a wonderful thread.   When I got married I swore I would not repeat the same marriage my parents had.  Especially after having my DD, I swore I would never divorce. How could I ever do that to her?   Finally I decided that I have three choices: 

1.  Stay in this loveless marriage and pray my DD doesn't follow down the same path.

2.   Possibly have a chance to meet a loving man one day, and show her what a healthy relationship looks like.

3.   Stay single and show her that it's okay to be a single mom.  I can teach her that at times it might be hard, but I/we will be ok.


I decided, finally, that I couldn't live with myself if I stayed and she attracted/married a PD.    I don't know what the future will hold for her as far as her relationships, but I can't help but think that I made the right choice for us both.

You will get your answer at the right time. :bighug:

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mdana

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2016, 02:30:31 PM »
Healingnow....

What a great way to see things...your thought process really resonated with me. When I was going through my "Should I Divorce ?" (thinking process)... I was so confused and saw things as a loose ...loose situation.  We stay together and make the best of it (suffer in certain ways) OR we divorce and suffer some more (only in different ways).

I never saw (back then) that options 2 and 3 were real possibilities for me. Meeting a loving man seemed impossible and staying single (the more likely possibility) was so frightening. I didn't think I would make it on my own and couldn't imagine  myself ever being happy alone.  But, my therapist told me ...happy mom's make better moms for their kids...which make better adjusted, happy kids.

It does sound like you made the right choice  for yourself and your DD. Good to hear ...

XOXO

M
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. The Dalai Lama

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healingnow

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2016, 02:37:53 PM »
Thanks mdana.   I felt the same way you described for a long, long time.  Especially the "how am I going to make it".  Thank goodness for a good therapist, meditation, and prayer.  Here's to all of us being happy mom's again to our beautiful kids!!

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Kit99

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2016, 06:02:01 PM »
Healing now- I like your thought process below. I think what makes it difficult to "choose" is when you do love the person despite the harm they sometimes inflict on the relationship. But even if one "stays" in a marriage where there is still love, it doesn't necessarily provide a good example of what that means.

1.  Stay in this loveless marriage and pray my DD doesn't follow down the same path.

2.   Possibly have a chance to meet a loving man one day, and show her what a healthy relationship looks like.

3.   Stay single and show her that it's okay to be a single mom.  I can teach her that at times it might be hard, but I/we will be ok.

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mdana

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Re: Are we doomed to repeat history?
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2016, 02:05:22 PM »
Kit...

I would have said the same back then too.  I really felt I loved my ex ... deeply even.  My ex actually left me...said he needed a break from the marriage. 

I don't want to minimize your pain and love for your husband.  I am sure you do love him... and he must love you too.  It can just be a relative thing.  There are many types, ways, and depths in which we can love.  And sometimes it's unimaginable that we will ever love another in the same way. And then we wonder ... why love can't fix this? 

M

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. The Dalai Lama