Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?

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SpringLight

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Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« on: June 04, 2016, 06:39:55 PM »
Since joining this forum, I've had an unexpected number of social invites for this summer, involving N's and BPDs--people from my past.  Guess I'm just lucky, huh? :sadno:

Each one of these social situations involves people from my past.

I have to say, even now, I am only partially Out of the FOG. But these social relationships all were created in one of the foggiest times of my past. My early years. When I had no knowledge of PDs, N's and I just accepted my role. I always accepted that if I were uncomfortable with these people, it was ALWAYS MY PROBLEM.

Each of these upcoming summer social situations presents different challenges for me, the SG. And some of get-togethers ,I may simply choose  NOT to attend.


I'll start with the family get-together, first.

My family will be together for about a week (THAT'S FAR TOO LONG, BUT FOR VARIOUS REASONS, I CAN"T GET AWAY), beginning the end of June until the end of the 4th of July holidays. Most of all, I'm dreading this sustained time with controlling, BPD-sis. The other family members can be problematic, but they are ones who will not be present all the time. 

BPD-sis can be "pleasant" and self-controlled with me for a day or two. But by the third or sometimes even second day, the first storm starts brewing. And I become the target when her mood changes for the worst, she's fatigued, etc. She is and has always been THE MOST CONTROLLING PERSON I have ever known.

In the past, I have REALLY TRIED to use journaling during those times when I can't avoid her, but I find myself unable to write or even think clearly with her around. And even afterwards, I'm so exhausted, I just want to forget it ASAP.  My way of coping has been to shut down and yes, go Gray Rock. I have practiced Gray Rock with her, and I can see how this method can be effective, especially if the PD person is acting out or raging.

BUT--as the family SG,  I've OFTEN been the invisible woman in the room--among family N's and NBPD sis. 

I can tolerate being the smiling, pleasant, invisible person for a few hours, trying to keep the conversation about every one else going, but over the course of a week, it's exhausting. My family knows that I AM interested in people, all people. So listening is not an effort for me. People have remarked that  I can "talk to anyone." and "can bring anyone out."

But, I've found being invisible is not good for my self-esteem.  So, while Gray Rock is good in the short term. In the long term, it can push my old family buttons. And make me feel depressed.

It's a sad fact, but nobody is less interested in me than my own family.  Totally random strangers often show more interest in me than my N-family members.

 Or rather, I can talk when questioned, BUT I have to keep my utterances and responses short, concise, delivered in the way THEY like.  They are allowed to tell stories of any length, in whatever style, even repeating themselves, but I have to stick to headlines and a summary statement or two. 

I really should add, in fairness to my family here...that they are all very successful, and lead very full, interesting lives. Therefore, an argument could be made that my life is just "boring" and not as thrilling, in comparison.   

Another challenge with BPD-sis (the oldest sibling) is that she is extremely controlling. My two brothers, mother and other family members don't seem to mind that she takes control.  Some of the time, I, too, don't care if she prefers to control how/where things are done. However, sometimes, I feel my boundaries are being ignored in a TOXIC way . She will often dig in her heels about the matter, and a "fight" will erupt.

My enM describes these moments  her daughters "fighting with each other," which I REALLY HATE since I am depicted as someone contributing to "the fight."  I've not perfect, of course, I can and do get angry, but I can honestly say that  I am never a "fighter" with anyone except with 3 or so BPD's I have known!)

Recent incident: my controlling BPD-sis changed a Mother's Day plan, which I had worked on, and had set up weeks earlier.  This change annoyed me, but I remained calm. I spoke up about ONE SMALL, SPECIFIC THING that I really cared about keeping, about the plan.  I told her WHY this was important to me, and why it would also benefit the group.  She listened, but argued some weak reason why  this one thing wasn't a good idea. In the end, she took control, and my feelings were disregarded. 

How to assert oneself while being Gray Rock, so as not to feel bulldozed by controlling PD people?  I don't have to win all my battles, but I don't want to lose ALL of them, either.  Also, how do you control your emotions when a BPD does something unexpectedly button-pushing...such as taking something of yours to her home, without asking. And insisting it was ok because she felt that  I "wasn't using it."  BTW, it was one of the few things I own that I don't want ANYONE taking outside my home.  But that didn't matter to her. SIGH.

So, to summarize: how to be true to self, be assertive when needed, and challenge the default position of entitled older sis controlling everything and anything in family. While doing gray rock, that is. 

It may seem childish, but it makes me furious when en-M is a witness to BPD-sis' arguable bad behavior, and I'm blamed for asserting an opinion, or asserting a basic right.

Thanks in advance, for any suggestions/or feedback.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 06:47:00 PM by SpringLight »

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Brigid O.

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2016, 09:03:51 PM »
Springlight:  I have had similar experiences to yours.  I don't know if I can offer anything useful, but I had to reply to your posting because I identified with it.  First, during family gatherings, I am expected to either say nothing, or to answer or speak in very short, neutral sentences.  I am not allowed to talk about my experiences, my opinions, nothing.  How do they enforce these conditions on me?  My siblings get very angry with me if I even start to give an opinion or offer a suggestion.  I mean, they get downright angry if, for example, I say that I liked mashed potatoes or something silly like that.   Or if I suggest that we go for a swim (swimming pool 5 feet away at the time).  My comment met by stony-faced silence and anger.

They get short-tempered, irritable, and they criticize me.  And I love talking with other people, making them laugh, finding out about them, sharing experiences.  I am very social and friendly, and my FOO hate it.  It makes me nervous and wound up when I even think about speaking to one of them -- even on the telephone.  I just know they will get angry with me.

Also, they are terribly incurious about me.  I've had three major debilitating operations in the past year and numerous experiences, travels, etc., before that and they never ask a thing about me . . . never how I am feeling, never what my plans are, never how am I.  It's truly weird.  We are all in our 50's and 60's and honestly they act like they are pre-teenagers sometimes (that is doing preteens a disservice, I believe).

You know what it really is?  They just out and out dislike me.  They have always disliked me because, I think, I am a happy person and they are deeply unhappy, all of them.

When I am with them or speak to them on the phone, I try to go "grey rock" but I feel so stifled and insignificant.

One suggestion I have for myself, maybe it might work for you, is to go completely out of character when I'm around them.  Like maybe memorize a bunch of silly, good natured jokes and just tell them.  At least I will amuse myself.  Or maybe I will pretend that I have terrible strep throat and I would like to speak but I have been rendered mute.  I don't know, just something to shake them up.

And about your sister--I have the exact same problem with an older sister.  She MUST impose her will on every situation; she MUST control every single detail.  It is just the way it is, and, I believe, a real characteristic of disordered people.  For instance, I asked my sister to visit me (we live hundreds of miles away).  She just couldn't do it because she "couldn't accept my hospitality" and just couldn't control every minute of the visit.  Very very weird and sad.

I'm sorry I don't have more to offer you, Springlight.  I really wish you the best of luck.

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closure_with_clarity

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2016, 09:17:47 PM »
My family will be together for about a week (THAT'S FAR TOO LONG, BUT FOR VARIOUS REASONS, I CAN"T GET AWAY), beginning the end of June until the end of the 4th of July holidays. Most of all, I'm dreading this sustained time with controlling, BPD-sis. The other family members can be problematic, but they are ones who will not be present all the time. 

My suggestion is to go with your stress levels and knowledge you can only endure updsis for 2 days tops. Polite excuses and little white lies to the toxic FOO are quite ok and acceptable in these instances. I call it the damned if you don't and damned if you do "no win situation"....so just don't is my mantra now. If you go for the full week you'll be walking on egg shells and come back emotionally drained. In essence ask yourself if  you'll need a vacation from having taken this vacation?

Come up with a work excuse and only go for 2 days tops...the limit you can take updsis.

I've been in similar shoes as you. And, had to find ways to politely bow out. If I went on further dysfunctional FOO escapades I was damned for either the _hit would hit the fan and one of the toxic FOO would explode and purge on me. Or I still came back drained like Count Dracula himself had sucked all my blood from having to walk on egg shells and "pretend" I was having a good time. And, the passive aggressive jabs and baiting toward me was enough to drive mother Teresa herself to blow a gasket :stars:

When I didn't attend and bow to the toxic FOO whims, I got heat the first few times for being selfish, not putting the family 1st, etc. But, I got to the point that it was in my own FOC best interest and emotional health to just don't. If I and my family were going to be placed in a no win situation, It might as well be in the position that was more comfortable for us....being farrrrr away from the chaotic FOO family fest.

For me personally, it came to looking at my precious time off and how yearly the dysfunctional FOO were demanding about 2 weeks of my valuable time off from work. Vital down time that would be best spent doing something I and the FOC enjoyed without all the chaos, drama, and walking on egg shells that came with placating my dysfunctional FOO.



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« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 09:23:31 PM by closure_with_clarity »
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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Summer Sun

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2016, 10:46:21 PM »
Spring light, I'm sorry for your ongoing FOO experiences.  I can so relate.  I could have written verbatim much of your commentary.

  I've come to see that any efforts of PD FOO inclusiveness are to ease their guilt, or perhaps offer them fuel for further smearing.  I've come to see that the blatant disinterest and limit on air time as "invalidation".  It is a form of abuse.  It is a form of abuse that you cannot confront - it would take empathy to want to understand the impact of one's hurtful  behaviours on others, they are not interested, they intend to hurt.  Also, if one confronts, it sets you up for being the crazy one.  I try to see it for what it is - it's is about them, not me.  Sometimes envy, jealousy plays a part - theirs.  Sometimes, I just try to see that hurt people, hurt people, to have some semblance of compassion for them.  But do I want to spend time with people who are not interested in me at all?  Who put me down? Who just p/a jab away?  No sense JADE with PD's.  Life is busy, I have commitments, and very limited time to expose myself to abuse nor spend time where I am really not known, or welcomed. 

Grey rock.  Limited exposure.  Light.  It may come across as the indifference I'yself have experienced from foo, however, if they (PD's) treat people the way they wish to be treated, it should not be surprising?

Wishing you joyous days with FOC and all the love, validation and care you give others!

Summer Sun

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BettyGray

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2016, 01:04:29 PM »
SpringLight and BrigidO,

I, too, could have written your posts almost verbatim. Especially the two-day limit. This used to be my life before I went NC with my FOO 6 months ago. My sister went NC with me first, a year ago. (And how wonderful and freeing it has been to no longer be her punching bag).  My older GCuNBPD sister is a nightmare. She is a bully to everyone, especially me.

When she used to visit me, she was tolerable for the first day or so, but then she would start jonesing for drama. DH and I are very laid back, drama-averse people. We used to call her Hurricane(name) as she would blow in and out of our lives for a few days and it would take a while to recover from her moods. Oh, and she was a terrible house guest - would trash the room she stayed in, left her grooming implements all over the bathroom (always leaving the cap off of her toothpaste and getting it all over the sink), dropped her stuff wherever she wanted to, complained about how uncomfortable the bed was, was always running late, on and on. One time we were almost rid of her and 10 minutes from the airport) and she told us she had forgotten her plane ticket. So we had to rush back (an hour drive) and the turn right around and go back. She barely made her flight. And didn't even offer to pay for gas.

Of course,  DH and I were grand hosts, frantically cleaning to make the house perfect (she would still find something about it to criticize), preparing wonderful meals, buying her favorite foods, taking her where she wanted to go. She never asked what I wanted to do, it was all about her. We couldn't wait for her to leave (I should point out that I never once in 20 years extended an invitation - she invited herself and I felt I couldn't say no).

She and my mom are fully enmeshed and take vacations together every year (at 47, sis has never married or had a really serious partner that stuck around more than a few years). A couple of times they invited me to go on vacation with them. My idea of HELL ON EARTH!!! They really didn't understand why I wouldn't want to spend my own money, take time off from my business (when I don't work, I don't get paid, so vacations are hard-earned and very precious), fly somewhere of their choosing, and spend 5 to 7 days either watching them fight or gang up on me. They were highly offended when I said "no, thanks." Thank God I never went but I used to intensely stress myself out figuring out a gentle way to say "Hell, no!"

My FOO has absolutely no interest in my life. DH and I would make our obligatory once a year visit and 3 days was the limit. They would, of course, complain and try to make me feel terrible about not staying longer, and then when we got there we were invisible. Or they would fight over who got to spend time with me. My mom would get angry if I stayed with my sister, if we were out shopping too long, or wanted to go out at night. So that tension was real fun - to be stuck in the middle of their tug of war over me, their object. It was horrible.

One Christmas there was a massive blizzard where we live, and there were no flights out of my FOO's city for 3 days. DH called to check and see if our flight was on time and found this out - we decided not to share this with them as they would have insisted we stay (3 more days of constant dysfunctional togetherness? KILL ME NOW). We got to the airport and found a flight leaving that night to a state in a different time zone that would connect us back to a second flight to another east coast city, and took a two trains to get back home. We came home to 4 feet of snow and had to dig our way to the door - around 3 in the morning. But our "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" experience was worth every ounce of energy it took to get home. It was actually kind of fun making our great escape!

I don't have much advice that hasn't already been given, but I think work could be a valid excuse and you should stick to your 2 day or nothing/take it or leave it approach. It will give you some power. I used to start the countdown to leaving as soon as I got off the plane.

If you feel you must go, just remember your boundaries and find reasons to get away for some sanity breaks. DH and I used to get up as early as we could when visiting her and take long, drawn out walks for exercise to kill an hour or so (countdown getting smaller!). Offer to run errands if you have a car. Do things together where you don't have to talk, like go to the movies. Have a reward waiting for yourself when you get home - something completely self-indulgent and healing. It will make the trip seem shorter if you have dessert waiting for you after eating all of those vegetables.  ;D

I wish you good luck. If they are really nasty to you, feel free to leave. You don't owe them anything and you don't have to put up with abusive behavior. Because that's what it is. Bullying someone to use their vacation time to be with you and then ruining it by being an a**hole is abuse and an invalidation of your presence. Don't compromise your self worth for them. A lot of us did that for so long. I am not even the same person I was before NC - I can't believe how long I let them mistreat me. But not anymore.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 01:15:29 PM by Liz1018 »

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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2016, 03:38:11 PM »
Thanks, Brigid O:

I wrote a reply to your message, yesterday, but somehow I ended up losing my almost-finished reply, before it was sent! :doh:

But, to recap, here are a few thoughts:

Brigid O, with respect to our siblings:  I honestly don't know whether it's as simple as calling it a "dislike" for you or for me. In my case, I don't think the siblings really know me.  It doesn't sound as though they know you, either.   :sadno:

I'm not sure, but I'll bet your sibs found out about your surgeries through someone else. I'll bet they found out "she survived the surgeries" and felt as though that was all they needed to know.  :stars:  I'm completely serious about this. Somehow, they found out that "you lived", and that's all they probably cared about. 

My sibs don't really know me, and sometimes their "incuriousness"  :bigwink: about the most basic information about me--is truly staggering. With respect to my health...well, don't get me started on that!

However,  I don't think my sibling  could ever say that I don't know THEM. That's because I DO listen, and do REMEMBER, and show an interest in their lives, both in the important and the trivial matters.   They don't know me or my life.  And don't want to bother to find out, beyond headlines.

AND--keeping ME as the SG of the family (still) works for them!  It makes them feel better about themselves.  It makes them feel superior, if they focus on my (real and imagined) problems.  I believe  this long-standing family dynamic has existed from when I entered the family, at my birth!  It's probably a gender thing with BPD-sis, because BPD-sis generally does NOT treat my brothers this way. She used to "goldenize" them both, because they reflected positively on her.

I no longer "blame" my parents. I believe they did the best they could.  They were both busy with full-time careers, raising  four children, all close in age.  They didn't have the tools or the knowledge to control the problem.

AND--they (UNFORTUNATELY) never entered into our conflicts. They believed "we had to work it out, ourselves." Guess who always WINS or PREVAILS... when the children are told to "work out conflicts, by themselves." Hint: it's not the baby of the family. :sadno:   When my parents went on trips by themselves, the oldest child was the one "in charge." Sis LOVED that, and exploited the control that role gave her.

I know for a fact that BPD-sis (the first born) was a "difficult baby."  In time, she grew into a temperamental child, who could have meltdowns. Family photos document an often unhappy-looking, unsmiling child.

However, at some point, in childhood, she turned that around--she became the (temporary) GC-- because she turned her "intensity" into pursuing high-achievement.  She is intelligent enough, but with her "intensity" she excelled at anything she set her mind to, because she worked her tail off. This high-achieving won my parents' constant attention, admiration and praise.  And we all heard about these things, because she was the first to do these things.

How were the relationships with YOUR sibs, throughout your life?

As far as  me"going out of character,"... ;D  I have tried variations on this theme.  The sad fact is...they aren't really that aware of me or my demeanor, one way or the other!

Going "Gray Rock" is out of character for me, because I typically show genuine interest in them, and provide support for them, in the same way I'd do for any friend or loved one.  But, I'll see if I can think something... :banana:
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 03:40:42 PM by SpringLight »

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Brigid O.

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2016, 06:29:10 PM »
Dear Springlight, I thank you so much for your thoughtful reply; it means alot to me especially given you probably had to re-type much of it.  Somehow it is really validating just to have another person recognize the truth of your own feelings.

You gave me alot to think about.  There are 4 siblings in my family, but unlike yours, my parents are deceased.  When they passed away, over 2 decades ago, the family get-togethers got less and less (but more and more unpleasant).  So, I don't have to face an extended period of time with them like you do.

But I definitely think you are right to trace back their treatment of you (and me) to childhood relationships.  My parents were "hands off" to the extent that they led by example -- they were of the Depression and WWII generation who loved us, I am sure, but simply did not talk to us about feelings, etc.  I do believe that the eldest PD sister was never ever told "no."  I think that this morphed into her present problems throughout the years of throwing hissy fits when she doesn't get her way.  I guess I am the SC to the extent that I am so different from them, or at least I feel like I am -- I'm often the butt of their jokes and jabs.

Yes, maybe they don't dislike me -- but they certainly have no empathy for me.  It's kind of shocking to read what you wrote about the operations -- especially since I went through them alone -- but you are probably right.  They don't care beyond the fact that I survived.   

But I digress; I still don't have any good suggestions for your upcoming family event.  I know that when I do see my family, the terrible experiences and things they say literally stay with me for years, and I churn them over in my mind for a long time.  One time I said to PD sister, "do you remember what you said to me?" (after a memorable dress down, ranting and rage toward me).  She just said blithely, "well, you needed to hear it."

I feel sorry for my whole family that we can't have and enjoy loving, close relationships.  I take comfort in thinking that change is always possible and at least I am glad that I (and you) do have empathy and consideration and compassion as human qualities. 

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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2016, 06:57:53 PM »
Hello, closure_with_clarity, and thanks for your reply.

I agree with you. I will have to monitor my stress level at all times. As most of us  (or is it all of us?) know, it's not JUST the stressful times that are stressful. The calm before and after the stressful times can be just as stressful.  We know from previous experience that it's just a matter of time before the Passive aggressive jabs and baiting... starts...

Just reading "passive aggressive jabs and baiting.." made my blood pressure go up.

I'm not a very good liar, however, I'm not above using little white lies to try to keep my distance.  From prior experience, the "incidents" are more likely to occur in the evening, often at dinner.  Cooking or even contributing to cooking is NOT her forte. (She has many other talents.) It seems to stress her out, AND she is usually tired and hungry at that time of day because she ALWAYS wakes up very early in the morning.

So, I will have to find (cough!) work-related dinners I must attend....on July 4!  ;D However, in this particular "vacation," there are too many things I have committed to (because of non-PD family visiting members.

P.S. You are so right about "damned if you do, damned if you don't." 

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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2016, 07:42:43 PM »
Hi, Summer Sun:

Thank you for your kind and wise words.

Isn't it...well....AMAZING.. how often you and I... and so many people here can find so many experiences on OOF that so closely resemble our own?

I'd just like to highlight, and enlarge what you wrote, here:

"I've come to see that any efforts of PD FOO inclusiveness are to ease their guilt, or perhaps offer them fuel for further smearing.  I've come to see that the blatant disinterest and limit on air time as "invalidation".  It is a form of abuse."

Wow..Invalidation, as a form of abuse. That's it.  :yes: It's so subtle, but so real.  I often see it and react when it's done towards OTHERS, but I must say I haven't always seen it when it's happening to me.

You've reminded me of something I almost forgot about BPD-sis.

Towards me, she is The Invalidator, Par Excellence.  If I have a "story" which is worthy of being listened to by her and which requires a modicum of empathy towards me, she will respond as devil's advocate. She will invariably view a bad luck story/episode I tell and see it through the lens of "the perpetrator" or the offending person! Even when there is not justification.

It's so predictable, it's almost amusing how out of her way she will go in conversation, to defend the person who has wronged me, or has been rude to me.

I'm referring to anecdotes like a terrible customer service agent who screws something up, and wastes your time, or a rude driver who causes me to have an accident. These are strangers who neither of us knows!  But she will see their side, thus invalidating my right to feel any indignation, because sis can always find justification for why they wronged me.  :stars:

But as you wrote:
"it would take empathy to want to understand the impact of one's hurtful  behaviours on others,

 :yeahthat: AND having N qualities, she's NOT GOING TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR ANYTHING. Furthermore, she often "forgets" incidents.

And yes, I agree:
"Sometimes envy, jealousy plays a part - theirs."

I only learned this late in life: People can feel envy and jealousy of me, you, anyone...even when you can't imagine WHY IN THE WORLD they would feel that way.  Just because I think someone "shouldn't" feel envy or jealousy towards me...doesn't mean they don't!

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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2016, 08:49:24 PM »
Hi, Liz 1018:

Yes, that's what I would call myself, as well.  Low-key and "drama-averse."  AND, I am even more intolerant of drama and PD people with each passing year!

I like the term "sanity breaks." I will try to find creative ways to make sure I have ACTUAL IDEAS TO IMPLEMENT for sanity breaks, so it's not just a vague concept like "take care of myself."  Hmmmm...maybe I should make an actual list...

I had to laugh--in empathy, mind you!--at the ENTITLEMENT of your sister:

You wrote:
 "We couldn't wait for her to leave (I should point out that I never once in 20 years extended an invitation - she invited herself and I felt I couldn't say no.") :laugh:
Again, I am laughing... IN EMPATHY!

And, yes, you're not the only one to have had and feared a Hurricane [Name] in your forecast.  For days you plan for it, and even after The Hurricane departs, you're still recovering from the storm!  :stars:

I'm happy to hear that going NC has given you your life back. And yes, I REALLY believe you when you say:
"I am not even the same person I was before NC." :applause: I still have a long way to go with FOO, but I HAVE made
progress with NPD-type people. And I've never had any regrets.

How interesting that your sister went NC before you did. May I ask what the catalyst was for THAT?

You sound like me when you wrote:
'I used to intensely stress myself out figuring out a gentle way to say "Hell, no!"'


I've been divorced for a long, and am and have been happy being single. So I don't often yearn to remarry. EXCEPT for times like this!!!--to escape FOO stress. Maybe I should hire a fake escort husband as a buffer--if only for times like this?! ;D

Also very funny was your "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" Great Escape! I believe you when you say you really didn't mind
the terrible inconvenience and shoveling snow at 3 AM!  HAHAHA! I know, I know. How funny.

I haven't faced an actual time when, for weather reasons, I'd have to face "3 more days of constant dysfunctional togetherness? KILL ME NOW"

But, I'd be lying to you if I said... it is always in the back of my mind.  ESPECIALLY at Christmas with that looooooooooong holiday break!  :aaauuugh:


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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2016, 11:23:47 PM »
Dear Brigid O:

Thank you for YOUR thoughtful reply.

Validation and empathy are both so important. It's amazing how much even a small amount of either can be so life-enhancing and sometimes even life-changing.

The fact that your FOO encounters became fewer and fewer (and became more and more unpleasant) after the death of your parents is, from my experience, very sad, but not that unusual.  Among my friends/acquaintances, it seems to be the norm.

But knowing you are not alone , is of little consolation, I know. Because we ALL want to have loving, supportive relationships with our FOO. Maybe the yearning for closeness is even greater after the last parent dies?

My parents are of the same vintage as yours, and were "hands-off," as well.  They had a laissez-faire approach to managing sibling conflicts. What a mistake!  Talking about feelings, was,, as you mentioned, something that made them uncomfortable.

My parents seemed to be more concerned about bpd-sister from early on. Maybe because they were first-time parents and/or she was a "difficult baby" whereas the rest of us were, according to my parents, "very easy." Perhaps, my parents, like yours thought the older sister had to be handled with kid skin gloves--deserved special treatment, so as to not provoke these overreactions and periodic "hissy fits."

Any family member making you the butt of the joke isn't "funny," it's actually semi-sadistic. But remember: it speaks A LOT more about them than it does about you. And it's not really "humor." I've read that the only kind of humor psychopaths are capable of appreciating ...is "humor" at someone else's expense.

There are all sorts of reasons (not justified!) that a sibling would ignore you at your time of need--when you were undergoing not one, but a series of surgeries.  I'm so sorry you didn't have any of their support, or even acknowledgement of what you were going through. I know that can be very, very hurtful. And their blatant neglect may be impossible to forget. Being sick, or undergoing surgery is about as vulnerable as anyone can get. You and I and every patient deserves all the friend/family support available.

Perhaps your sibs have a general fear of illness? Perhaps your condition may not have been contagious, but your condition may remind them of their own vulnerability and mortality, and that was too scary for them?  Perhaps your siblings will claim that they thought you "didn't want any visitors or attention?" Perhaps they might say, if you asked them: "Well, I assumed that you wanted to keep all that private."

Perhaps they really did have real feelings, but didn't know how to express all that?  Because it made THEM feel vulnerable, so, for a time,  they pushed all concern for you out of their mind.

When they found out you "survived" the surgeries... they could rationalize away their non-action/non-concern.  :upsidedown:

If they knew about your surgeries, and did nothing, it speaks VOLUMES about them, not you. There so many ways of helping that don't involve anything physically or emotionally difficult. (i.e., calling you, sending flowers, sending a card...etc.)

You wrote:
One time I said to PD sister, "do you remember what you said to me?" (after a memorable dress down, ranting and rage toward me).  She just said blithely, "well, you needed to hear it."


Oh, how noble of her! 
You see, as you suspected all along, that fit of rage was motivated by.. basic ALTRUISM! :blowup:

My sister would first say and has ALWAYS SAID when I ask her this after a brutal episode: "I don't want to talk about it now. I'm too tired." And then after a few weeks/months of  (presumably "resting up" from her post-outburst fatigue) , she would claim she doesn't remember what exactly happened.   :stars:

Like you, I do believe that change is always possible. Hypothetically, yes.

Meanwhile, as we wait for that change... here's a hug of empathy for you!   :bighug:

P.S. Hope your multiple surgeries successfully resolved your problem  and that your health has been restored!
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 11:27:47 PM by SpringLight »

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Brigid O.

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2016, 12:10:16 AM »
Dear Springlight:  WOW !! What a wonderful post for me to treasure.  Thank you so much.  I have to re-read it several times but I wanted to dash this off to say THANK YOU !  I love the emojis (sp.?) you used also.

I very much appreciate the kind analysis and commiseration.  I had two hip replacements and one shoulder replacement in one year and am still recovering but physically it went well.  Yes, I agree, my siblings may not have known how to respond.  I actually had to give the hospital my brother's phone number as an emergency contact  (in another state) before the first operation -- I'll never do that again, I used my friendly neighbors -- and the hospital must have called him before the operation to verify since I was alone.  So, a week after my operation he calls me at home to say "did you do anything last week?"  Well, I said, "not really."  He:  "are you sure?"  Me:  "well, I had a hip replacement."  End of conversation.  These folks are hilarious !  Killing me with kindness !

The other "funny" thing is that when my PD sister asked me how it went, months later, and I started to tell her, she interrupted me to describe her many ailments.  Guess I can't even have major operations to myself . . . their problems are so much more serious.

I can laugh now.  You sound like you have so much on the ball, Springlight -- intelligence, humor, analytical mind, irony (and ability to spell laissez faire!) --- so sorry your family can't appreciate you more.

Thanks again ! 

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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2016, 03:32:01 PM »
Hello again, Brigid O: :wave:

Thank you so much for YOUR very kind words!

You had...two hip replacements and one shoulder replacements in one year!?  :aaauuugh: One joint replacement is about all MOST mortals can think of tolerating in a year. That's REALLY A LOT for anyone/ "any body" to undergo!

It sounds as though you are well on your way to regaining your life/strength again! :applause: I hope you never have to go through this again, but if you do, I hope you have other people you can depend on. For EVERYTHING, including emotional support and encouragement.  You deserve that. EVERYONE deserves that.

I've never had any orthopedic surgery, but I DO know from listening to others (and visiting them in the hospital) that each of your surgeries involved 1) shopping around for doctors and hospitals 2) getting a second and possibly 3d or 4th opinion 2) choosing your surgeon 3) often attending a class about joint replacement  4) the surgery itself  5) post-op in the acute care hospital and 6) rehab P.T and O.T.

I've skipped over the part where you, the patient, have to find a way to eat post-op, deal with the post-op pain and stiffness,  take care of the incisions, possible complications, go to post-op visits with the surgeon... It takes a long, long, time, a lot of effort and YOU NEED HELP before you are independent again.. However, it's worth it, because those original joints were giving you terrible problems.

Again, I don't think it's that your siblings "don't like" you.  They sound... just... emotionally cold and self-absorbed-- in the extreme.
Your brother sounds as though he has a negative EQ (Emotional Intelligence.) Of course, that doesn't mean he necessarily has a low IQ.

From what YOU can determine, have they singled you out for this treatment-- or do they treat all of their family, friends and loved ones this way?

How has your family deal with illness/injuries in the past?  Especially with your parents, in your distant past?  How did they cope with your parents' illnesses?

My experience with healthy N's is that they all have this delusional belief that they are healthy and WILL ALWAYS BE HEALTHY and STAY OUT OF THE HOSPITAL--BECAUSE they are innately stronger, better, superior to the average person. And  of course "they take care of themselves." (As if people with medical problems were sick or injured because they don't take care of themselves.) You see, these N's "don't get sick."  The N's I have known boast about not taking medicine for anything--ever.

The N's I know wouldn't even think their joints could ever fail them. 

The average N that I have come across  believes that one's health is always COMPLETELY IN ONE'S CONTROL.

Your sister interrupting and not being willing to listen to your story is, sadly typical for PDs...but it's highly INVALIDATING, and as was mentioned  upthread it is a form of abuse.

I wonder what the appropriate/most effective thing is to say when your sis starts a competition with you about medical problems.
I mean, if I were you...I wouldn't have a problem, even during the joint post-op months, offering empathy for any pain or malady. ON THE OTHER HAND, it's mind-boggling and just wrong to give them much air time, when they deprivef you of basic, timely concern. Perhaps, what you could have done is offer brief sympathy but then interrupt them before long to say: " Oh, sis, so sorry you have tennis elbow, but, my hip is giving me throbbing pain. So I've got to get off the phone and do the stretches my PT gave me, to work out this pain."  THEN GET OFF THE PHONE!! :)

I suppose the seasoned members of this group would say...to go LC or NC with people who are that emotionally cold and withholding. I'm slowly but surely ridding myself of people who are emotionally cold, emotionally indifferent and/or have N tendencies.  Life is too short to have to analyze/tolerate people who routinely fail us emotionally.

And at this point in my life, it  doesn't matter if their N pathology doesn't rise to the level of personality disorder. 

Here's to your new joints and to your good emotional AND physical health! :drinks:





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Brigid O.

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2016, 07:20:50 PM »
Dear Springlight:  I have hijacked your original thread with my own concerns !  You are so kind to reply with real thought-out answers.  To tell the truth, it's the most interest and support I've received all year(s), so I am doubly grateful.  I'm going to try and insert an emoji here:  "fireworks."  :fireworks:

I wanted to comment on your sister being "too tired" to address her inappropriate outbursts with you, and then forgetting them.  You know much more than I, but my sister also denies that she has been "critical" or "had melt-downs."  So, how can these people even have a mature relationship with anyone if they just dump on people and then the dumpees are supposed to forget it, overlook it, etc.?  I have forgiven my sister, I really have (she obviously hasn't asked for forgiveness), but it makes me very wary of speaking with her for more than a few seconds.   :-X

Late in 2015, I read one of Dr. George Simon's books on Personality Disorders, and he recommends confronting the PD -- calling them out (not meanly) each time they evade, blame-shift, lie, etc.  So, I started doing that with PD sister in 2016.  I would say, "now, PD sister, be accurate now."  Or I would say, "right there--that is an example of you accusing me."  For the past 50 ++ years, I had never taken this tack.  I had just ignored her meanness, but politely.  But this new "me" is causing her to back off and back down.  I don't Know if it would work with your sister or not.

 PD sister wants to have a relationship with me, but only with her as the dominant figure and me as the supplicant.  She just can't figure out how to get what she wants from me (or anyone) without bullying, criticizing, etc.  And the sad thing is that she has moments of real sweetness and I don't think she has any friends . . . . how I wish we could have the relationship that was good for us both.  I do worry about her, she is almost (figuratively) crippled and unable to relate to other people by her PD.  :sadno:

You really opened my eyes with your discussion of emotional intelligence.  Yes, I would say now, and I had never thought about it before, that my sibling are very cold people.  I was the only one who broke down in sorrow when my Mother died . . . the others, come to think of it . . . just took it in stride, I guess.  I wonder how it happened that I was the only emotional one.  Brother didn't even bring his family for the funeral and he skipped the funeral reception.  Since you made the observation, Springlight, maybe I will choose not to be hurt by their distant coldness any more -- or take it personally.  We just exchange cards a couple of times a year anyway -- I won't invest any more expectations of closeness or feelings in them.

Thank you so much for the interest and concern in my surgery !!!   Except for the first couple of days, not much pain and the last hip surgery I didn't take any pain medication at all except Tylenol.  The pain meds upset my stomach so much and made me ill.   I have dear neighbors who made sure to check on me and I just hobbled around for a few weeks with canes, walkers, etc.  Hardest part now is getting stamina back because the doc says muscles heal very slowly and of course the anesthesias are very rough.  They say it takes about a year to fully recover, so right now I can do one or two things a day (e.g., walk, shop).  I am very touched and grateful for your thoughts, Springlight.  What a relief to be able to move without pain and without constant aspirin -- osteoarthritis can be very painful.

Yes, the surgeries have really opened my eyes because of the lack of response from my siblings.  When they had, e.g., knee replacements, I offered to help and checked in on them.  No such response here. 

So, when I think of them, I think of them as my "family emeritus."  As per your observations, I really have very little interaction with them, and I'm going to make it very very much less.

 ;D

Oh, one more thing.  Thank you for addressing PD sister substituting her own ailments for concern for me.  How astute of you to observe that it diminishes me.  I mean, it's really weird to have someone talk about themselves when they ask about you!  Here is how I handled it:  I looked up her ailments on the internet and suggested that she do x, y and z.  Well, she didn't really want an analysis, she just wanted a pity party.  I didn't give her one because I thought she was making it up anyway.  I think she just recycles ailments for sympathy when her bullying tactics don't work.  How I hope she can get just a little bit better so she could have a happy life in her retirement . . .

I thank you again, and I am very buoyed by your postings !  I wish I had more insight to share with you re: your situation. 

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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2016, 12:33:45 AM »
Hello, Brigid O.:

No, you haven't "hijacked" the original thread. I'd say...this thread is just... evolving!  :bigwink:
I'm so happy that my posts have been of help to you.   

You've asked the million dollar question here:

"So, how can these people even have a mature relationship with anyone if they just dump on people and then the dumpees are supposed to forget it, overlook it, etc.? "


You commented:

'So, I started doing that with PD sister in 2016.  I would say, "now, PD sister, be accurate now."  Or I would say, "right there--that is an example of you accusing me."  For the past 50 ++ years, I had never taken this tack.  I had just ignored her meanness, but politely.  But this new "me" is causing her to back off and back down."


My BPD-sis has a habit of counter-accusing me whenever I  call her out--and like you, this is NEW BEHAVIOR for me. I think I do it  most gentle, innocuous, unemotional way.   She can not bear being accountable for her bad behavior. So, she will project saying: "Oh, please! If only I could count the times YOU do X, Y or Z!."  And then it can escalate from there. Or, she'll give one of her exasperated eye-rolls.

Bear in mind, she can never provide any actual examples of me ever doing X, Y or Z.  And recently, I've been quick to point out her lack of factual evidence!

Nevertheless, she remains in severe denial about her outbursts, rages, and flaws, but she attributes certain of her bad qualities to ME.  She is usually successful at completely derailing the conversation at this point. And then, she'll insist we stop because she's stressed or exhausted after her "long day."  So, it never gets resolved.

And yes, my BPD sis wants a relationship with me, but, as you said. "with her as the dominant figure and me as the supplicant."

"She just can't figure out how to get what she wants from me (or anyone) without bullying, criticizing, etc. "
 :yeahthat:

And like your sister, my sister can be "caring", sweet, fun...at times. 

And perhaps it's that intermittent sis normal/niceness is why it's taken us over 50 years to begin to sort it all out. 

I put "caring" in quotes when it concerns my sister, because I must say she is capable of doing many "caring things."
But, expressing any real empathy towards me? I don't think so.

She has even acknowledged and thanked me in the past for being so "empathetic" towards her.

You might think she'd want to reciprocate the kindness... I mean... every once in a while?

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Brigid O.

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2016, 01:21:31 PM »
Hi Springlight, thank you for the detailed reply.   :wave:
 
I have the EXACT same experiences with my PD Sister.  She accuses me of doing the very same reprehensible behavior that she does.  In fact, I would say that she is quicker on her feet with a retort than me because she spends more time thinking about it.  It is so exasperating that one doesn't even know what to do in response, and there is a lurking thought in my head, "maybe she's right to a certain extent." 

But it makes interaction just impossible.  When you detail your experiences with your sister, it's clear there is no effective resolution.  But, if I am quick enough on my feet, I am still going to say, "classic blameshift there, PD sis."

It makes all conversations into skirmishes !   :stars:

One thing I did in 2016 was to answer her telephone/letter messages (and we haven't communicated since 2009 to any extent) with written replies.  I would just work and rewrite my letters, being sure to include some compliments in them as well ("e.g., you are a valuable person, and I thank you for . . . .").  Her response:  "you're wrong about me," and "I'm a 'we'" person and you all are "you" people. 

The only advance I can see in all these decades is that on my part, I just don't care enough any more to engage after initial skirmish.  What I wish I could do is to address her with love and compassion -- I haven't mastered that one  yet.    I wish I could confront her behavior while at the same time showing her kindness.  When all I feel is close to revulsion, I just want to get away.

At least while I recuperate, I've just given up trying to respond to her.  Last winter, and after 7 years of basically NC, she sent me flowers on my birthday.  I was so weak and ill, I just stared at them in fear because I knew she was opening a new phase of trying to contact me, and I know what that means.  All I could think of was, "THE EYE OF SAURON HAS TURNED ON ME."   

Anyway, it is cathartic to write about and I thank you so much for your thoughts.  I just don't know the answer; there doesn't seem to be any "action" on my part which can change the dynamic between us.  Other two siblings either won't discuss or don't experience the same thing.


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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2016, 08:14:27 PM »
Hi, Brigid O. (and anyone else who is reading this!)

Brigid, um...before we go any further...can we be absolutely sure your sister... isn't my sister?  :hug:

I think our PD sisters use this projection (blaming us for their own deficiencies) as a defense mechanism--to relieve their anxiety, perceived shame, frustration about not being perfect and therefore "unlovable", etc. I believe the resentment towards me began at my birth, because my sister detested having to "share" her mother with another daughter. The boys were happy to be with our father. 

I have distinct memories of sis frequently (literally) pushing me away angrily when I approached Mom, when sis was around.  Although I  felt loved by Mom, she failed to teach my sister that rudely pushing me away was not acceptable.  Mom catered to sis that way.  When I went to be with the boys and my father, there was no such resistance/jealousy from my brothers, in "sharing" my father.

I think it was/is important to sis to always be BETTER than I am. THE BEST DAUGHTER. The most responsible, the most self-disciplined, the most honest...well, the most everything.  Unless it's something she has no interest in. 

Sometimes the blame game these PD sibs play is so absurd as to be really comical (in retrospect). However, you're right. Sometimes there is a kernel of truth to what they say. That's true--sometimes.  And I've tried to listen for any kernel of truth.  And I will "own up to it." Unlike my sister, who still wants to be seen as perfect, so as to be "worthy of love."

My BPD-sis is so sensitive to criticism that anything I say may be perceived as a criticism. That includes me offering a difference of opinion about the most mundane thing.

My sister is DEFINITELY quicker on her feet with the retorts, and always has been--because (at times) she allows herself to have no filters.  :aaauuugh: If I had said many of the things that she has come out with...I would have been severely reprimanded by my parents.

For most of my life, I turned the other cheek, believing that "love is the answer." As a child, I took the "Golden Rule" to heart. To an extreme! Meaning, I took abuse from  without protestation.  Was I ever in the FOG!  :stars:

In many cases, love obviously IS the answer. But not always. Extra love won't make an alcoholic clean and sober. And laying down one's life for a PD person, hoping they will change for the better is...futile and only wreaks havoc on the self-esteem and life of the person doing the sacrifice, made in the name of "love."

Like you, after all these decades, I am really worn down.

I will continue to be kind. Well, until she mistakes my kindness for weakness and pounces on me, irrationally.  But to conserve my energy, I have to be more Gray Rock.  I have a tough week coming up.

Like you, I am very careful about what I say. I respect the fact that she is highly "sensitive" and highly reactive. So, I edit my words. If and when I have something I genuinely like or appreciate about her, I will not hesitate to tell her, I will praise her, sincerely.  I say it, because it is true, and what's the point of withholding sincere praise?   I do it, but not because I am trying to manipulate her or have any expectations that she will become consistently respectful to me. 

Growing up, she was a high achiever in everything she pursued. Yet, with her temper and irritability, she was treated in the family as if she were the special needy, vulnerable one. The message from our parents: family members just needed to tolerate that. And I never really questioned that family message. So, she almost always got her way.  And because she was the "oldest" she was deemed the highest up, and "most worthy of most respect." (Who made up THAT rule? :no:)

One of my delusions (still!) has been that I continue to yearn for our mother to speak out against these attacks--when she witnesses them. (In that regard, I am still a five year old child, wanting Mom's acknowledgement that it is REAL. I desperately want her to stop enabling sis, but I have to accept that her doing that is likely NEVER to happen. )

Yes, I agree that it is cathartic to write these things.

I am happy to have found this site, but would have been a lot happier if I had found this site decades ago! Oh, well. I guess it's never too late to come Out of the FOG! 

No more fog for the fogies!....that's my new motto! :banana:
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 08:18:21 PM by SpringLight »

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Miss Mermaid

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2016, 11:59:35 PM »
I have been reading along in this thread and just nodding away at so many things. Many of the behaviors you describe in your siblings and family, Springlight, are so familiar to me from both my brother and past exes in my life. It's really opening my eyes even more than I've already found on this site. The failure to pay attention to you, the lack of interest and not letting you talk about yourself, the fierce arguing and the playing devil's advocate for the person who's done wrong to you - I've experienced ALL of these things with my brother and/or my ex. Just wow.

You've already gotten a ton of amazing advice on this post, so I will just say thank you for posting, I agree with the idea of setting aside alone time, while you're on vacation, to reset, and maybe having a friend who isn't there to act as a lifeline - someone you can call (or have call you) to debrief a bit each evening, or even to use as an excuse to go into a room by yourself for a little while. Best of luck! :cheer:

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SpringLight

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2016, 05:11:27 AM »
Thanks for your comments, Miss Mermaid.

I know what it's like to stay stuck in a marriage because at some level it felt familiar to old family behavioral patterns. Of course, I didn't see the similarities at the time, because I was young, naive about PDs, living across the country and rarely visited my family during my marriage (because of the distance.)

Do you ever feel like you'dlove to have the ability to turn back the clock and understand (with an adult mind and adult insights) how and why these relationships with your brother became they way they are?  I have ALWAYS wanted to have warm, close relationships with my siblings.

 I still believe parents like my own (had they been aware and were not so busy with their careers) could have insisted on mutual respect among siblings, despite differences in age and temperament. 

As I have written before, it still irks me that my mother doesn't speak out against rude behavior when she witnesses my sister instigating a fight, or baiting me.

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Brigid O.

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Re: Strategies for Using Gray Rock with N and BPDs?
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2016, 06:27:16 PM »
Dear Springlight and friends:

I think I'll just end my thread by saying special thanks to Springlight and to wish Springlight a "bearable" week coming up.  As understanding and caring as you are, someone will want to spend some quality time with you there, with your observations.  Maybe your sister will pick another conversationalist there . . . . but in any case you've helped me immensely by sharing experiences.  :yes:

I keep thinking how sad it must be to be a PD sister like mine--not able to process information, not able to evaluate myself or have insight about my behaviors, viewing everyone with hostility and envy . . . and never changing as the years go by.   :(

Thank you again, Springlight !